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International Launch Services, Russia’s division for obtaining commercial launch contracts, announced yesterday that it obtained “multiple orders” for its Proton rocket.
ILS, a leading provider of commercial launch services, announced multiple launch assignments for Proton Medium launches that will include the use of both the 4.35 meter and the new 5.2 meter payload fairing. The missions will take place beginning in late 2019 from Pad 24 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The reason I put a question mark in the headline is that this announcement is incredibly vague. It doesn’t name the customers. It doesn’t specify the actual number of launches. It really doesn’t tell us anything, other than the Proton has obtained launch orders!
I suspect the Russians have gotten some launch contracts, but I also suspect that these contracts are with Russian companies only, and they want to hide this fact because it indicates once again that they have lost their international market business to SpaceX and others. Launch orders from within Russia are essentially ordered to go to Proton by the government. No one else however wants to buy their services, because no one has faith in their quality control processes. There have been too many launch failures in recent years.