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ILS readies Intelsat-31 for launch

International Launch Services, which handles the commercial launches of the Russian-built Proton rocket, has taken delivery of Intelsat-31 at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The delivery comes just a few days after the 100th ‘birthday’ since the establishment of what became Russia’s ‘State Research & Production Space Centre MV Khrunichev’, which today manufactures the Proton rocket.

The MV Khrunichev business started out as a car-building factory back in 1916 and by 1941 was producing army trucks and later building the luxury Zil (Zih) limousines that were so popular with Russian VIPs (and priced at Rolls-Royce levels).

In terms of today’s space-related business, Khrunichev grew out of its (1923-1960) aviation experience into space and rockets from 1959. More than 400 Proton rockets have been supplied, as well as modules for orbital space station s and the International Space Station.

Intelsat-31 has been built by Space Systems/Loral and will be positioned at 95 deg West, and with the bulk of its capacity already leased to DirecTV Latin America. Launch date is expected around May 16th.

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