International Launch Services (ILS) could see the troubled Proton rocket system back in use this autumn. ILS is expected to form its own Failure Review Board in September to examine the evidence and assess the results of Russia’s own examination of the probable cause of a catastrophic launch failure which occurred in May. That failure has grounded all subsequent Proton flights.
ILS recently laid off 25 per cent of its staff (believed to be between 35 and 40 people) as a result of the downturn in business. ILS is now managing its business to assume only 3 to 4 satellite launches a year, and not the 7 to 8 that it has carried out in recent times.
ILS’ CEO Phil Slack told trade newspaper Space News that he expected the Russian government to mop up back-to-back flights for its own demands initially starting with flights in late September or early October. Slack said once these demands are met then ILS could step in and still manage at least one flight this year which would be for SES’ Astra 2G satellite.