Proton launch success

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The competition heats up: Russia’s Proton rocket successfully launched a military communications satellite on Sunday.

The link provides a lot of interesting information about the satellite as well as some recent upgrades the Russians have installed in Proton, but for context the last two paragraphs are probably the most important:

Sunday’s launch was the seventy ninth orbital launch attempt of 2015 and the seventh Proton launch of the year. Five of the six previous launches were successful, with May’s launch of Mexsat-1 failing to achieve orbit. Proton has had eleven failures in the last ten years, with 2009 the only year since 2005 in which it has not suffered at least one anomaly.

The next Proton launch is scheduled for 23 December, with another Proton-M/Briz-M carrying the Ekspress-AMU1 communications satellite. Details of any future Garpun launches are not available.

The launch reliability for Proton has seriously fallen since 2005, and to compete in the changing launch market they will need to fix this.


  • wodun

    Is the contest heating up? Obviously is it with all of the progress in different areas both in the USA and abroad but last year there were 90/92 successful launches. This year only 79. Perhaps next year will see a higher launch rate as various companies recover from recent launch failures. Had those companies not had any issues, the launch rate surely would have been higher than 2013 but maybe not as high as 2014.

  • Edward


    The *competition* is certainly heating up. For launch providers who have high reliability (e.g. ULA), satellite operators will flock for the assured launch into the proper orbit. For providers with low cost (e.g. SpaceX), operators will flock for the cheap access to the proper orbit. For providers who have lower reliability at higher cost (e.g. Russia), the operators desperate to get to orbit sooner rather than later will come to them.

    It is best not to be in the last category, because as soon as another provider can pick up its launch rate (as SpaceX is trying to do), or additional providers come online (e.g. ISRO and its GSLV rocket) then the poorer provider gets ignored altogether, and those rockets will stop being made (e.g. JAXA’s H-1).

    I recently read that at least 25 companies have announced plans to build rockets to launch small satellites, a class that is expected to grow rapidly in the next few years. The competition among those companies will be especially heavy, at least until the number of small satellites launched each year meets the (over)capacity to launch them.

  • Wodun

    Sure, I was just noting the drop in tempo this year.

  • Edward

    Yeah. Fiscal 2015 was pretty bad, overall. Too many failures, even a deadly one, and nerves about keeping ISS manned. But there were some successes and good news, too.

    Here’s to looking forward to a better 2016 (e.g. Blue Origin thinks they will start unmanned science sounding missions).

  • pzatchok

    No matter what negative things I might say about the Russian space industry I am glad the Proton is still in use and working hard.

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