Twenty-five years ago, on April 9, 1996, a combined Russian, American and European team made space history with the first launch of a Western satellite onboard a Russian rocket. The Proton launch vehicle carried the ASTRA 1F satellite for SES of Luxembourg, to geosynchronous transfer orbit with an early morning liftoff from Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The launch services for this milestone mission were conducted by International Launch Services (ILS), a U.S. company, headquartered in Reston, Virginia and established in 1995. The Proton launch vehicle, a U.S. Department of State licensed launch system, is manufactured by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, of Moscow.
Now, Proton has conducted 97 commercial missions for over 50 companies representing 25 countries across the globe, forging ongoing partnerships in international cooperation in space.
“Since the landmark first commercial Proton launch, industrial engagement between American and Russian space firms has led to decades of peaceful commercial cooperation. ILS has been honored to enable the deployment of communication technologies and services to benefit national security, first responder and emergency services, disaster relief efforts and scientific advancement. We look forward to fostering innovation and a bright future for our customers, alongside our Russian partners, using the array of services offered by the workhorse Proton, the Angara 1.2, Angara 5, Soyuz-2 and Soyuz-5 family of launch vehicles,” said Tiphaine Louradour, ILS President.
Alexei Varochko, Director General of Khrunichev, said, “The launch of the Astra 1F spacecraft 25 years ago marked the entry of the Russian Proton launch vehicle into the international launch service market. We, as a shareholder of ILS and an operator of the Proton and Angara launch vehicle family launch services, will continue our work in order to perform under international space projects in the future”.
“Glavkosmos and GK Launch Services are proud to be partnering with ILS, offering launch services using the Soyuz launch vehicle family,” said Dmitry Loskutov, Director General of Glavkosmos. “We congratulate ILS on this important milestone in the commercial space history. We look forward to working with ILS to conduct additional missions to serve the world market.”