ILS Sets September Return To Flight For Proton

By Amy Svitak
Source: Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
August 15, 2013

International Launch Services (ILS) says it will resume commercial launches of Russia’s Proton rocket Sept. 15 following the conclusion of an investigation into a July 2 mishap that sent the heavy-lift vehicle crashing to the ground seconds after liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

In an Aug. 14 statement, the company said members of an ILS failure review oversight board (FROB) agreed with the findings of a Russian government commission on the root cause of the failure, which was attributed to the improper installation of three yaw angular rate sensors located on the first stage of the Proton M/Block DM3 launch vehicle.

The mishap was the rocket’s fifth within the past 30 months, and follows a spate of Russian launch vehicle failures in recent years. Reston, Va.-based ILS and its majority shareholder, Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center of Moscow, have launched 81 commercial Proton missions since 1996, six of which were failures. But the majority of Proton mishaps have occurred on Russian federal missions, including the July 2 failure, which destroyed three Russian Glonass M navigation satellites.

ILS says the return-to-flight mission will loft the Astra 2E satellite for fleet operator SES of Luxembourg. Built by Airbus Defense & Space, the satellite was initially slated to launch in late July.

ILS says its Proton manifest for the remainder of 2013 is currently being determined.


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