Proton rockets ready to return to work

International Launch Services (ILS) which markets the use of Russia’s Proton rocket system to ‘western’ satellite operators, says it “cautiously” expects to return to normal flight operations by April or May.

ILS’ president Kirk Pysher, in an interview with trade mag Space Intel Report, said the engine quality problems which had grounded the Proton rockets since last June and that curing the problems had not been easy, but the end-result represented a quality-control success story.

Pysher explained that there had been more than one problem which had grounded the rockets since an in-flight anomaly with the launch of Intelsat-31 last summer, not least with how solder with a high melting point had performed – or not – in the building of the Proton’s engines.

ILS added that they were planning for 3 commercial launches this year with Proton.

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