Launch-service provider SpaceX on May 30 said it would meet with insurance underwriters in the coming weeks to discuss the company’s plans to certify used rocket stages as fit for reuse, a long-held SpaceX ambition as a way to reduce launch costs.
Inmarsat, worried that delays in the introduction of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will compromise a major new growth initiative, has booked an option to launch the Europasat/Hellas-sat 3 satellite aboard an International Launch Services Proton rocket in 2017, industry officials said.
An ILS Russian Proton rocket on Jan. 30 successfully placed the Eutelsat 9B commercial telecommunications satellite into orbit.
The company will pay more for a dedicated Ariane 5 launch in order to get the satellite in service before the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Managers of the Russian rocket are also using contract modifications, including schedule priority on Proton’s launch manifest for commercial missions and other benefits not directly related to prices.
International Launch Services on Sept. 11 said President Phil Slack is leaving the company after three years in his job and is being replaced by Kirk Pysher, who has been ILS’s mission assurance vice president.
Inmarsat confirmed that the satellite was healthy and had been placed in the correct super-synchronous transfer orbit 15 hours and 31 minutes after the launch from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
A Proton M rocket launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 7:44 a.m. EDT on its first mission since a failed launch in May. Confirmation of a successful mission, however, is not expected until the rocket's upper stage releases the Inmarsat-5 F3 satellite more than 15 hours after liftoff.
Russia’s Proton rocket is scheduled to return to commercial service in late August or early September following the conclusion of a government investigation into a May failure that destroyed a large Mexican telecommunications satellite and shook once again the market’s confidence in the rocket.
The May 29 statement by Roscosmos on the May 16 Proton rocket failure confirmed initial suspicions of a third-stage engine issue but otherwise left many questions unanswered about the failure’s origin.
Satellite owners and insurance underwriters who have booked or insured launches aboard Russia’s Proton rocket in the coming months have little choice but to stick with the rocket despite the fact that the vehicle’s May 16 failure was its fourth since mid-2012.
An International Launch Services (ILS) Proton rocket carrying Mexico’s Centenario mobile communications satellite failed about eight minutes and 10 seconds after liftoff May 16 in what early reports said was a problem with the rocket’s third stage.