The Russian space company RSCEnergia has issued a press release declaring it is not participating in the International Launch Services (ILS) venture. ILS is the international program that uses Russian Proton rockets to launch geostationary communication satellites from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Now, press releases are usually reserved for more celebratory events. Or they announce a specific action taken by a company, such as withdrawing from a program or winning a contract.
But the Energia release is different, declaring that for several years now "Energia is not in the position to influence the decision-making process" at ILS. Energia's efforts to get representation on the governing boards of ILS have "proved to be futile," according to the release.
Energia's management wants everyone to know that, press reports and the official ILS website to the contrary, "RSC Energia has been debarred from any meaningful participation in ILS in the recent years."
So, why the press release? The answer to that question touches on some very interesting fault lines in the working relationship between the Russian Khrunichev and Energia organizations.
Energia and Khrunichev have at times been like cats trapped in the same box, fighting for survival with limited resources. During International Space Station negotiations with NASA, there always were dueling proposals from each organization on the table.
With the removal of the Energia upper-stage DM block from the Proton, Khrunichev management clearly has elected to bar Energia from playing an operational role in the company. Given their confrontational history, this is hardly a surprise -- the surprise is Energia's public lament.
Advice to Lockheed and Khrunichev: Edit your ILS web site!