ILS Appoints Pysher to New Quality Control Position

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WASHINGTON — Less than two months after the spectacular crash July 2 of Russia’s workhorse Proton rocket, International Launch Services (ILS), which markets the vehicle commercially, announced it had created a new position at the company with responsibility for quality control.

In an Aug. 20 press release, Reston, Va.-based ILS announced the appointment of Kirk Pysher as vice president of mission assurance and product development. Pysher will have responsibility for “overall quality review and monitoring of the Proton Quality Management System (QMS), oversight of Proton production processes and procedures, and regular reporting to industry customers and insurers on quality improvements performed by Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center.”

Moscow-based Khrunichev is the Proton manufacturer and majority shareholder in ILS, one of the world’s primary providers of commercial launch services.

ILS spokeswoman Karen Monaghan said Pysher’s position is a newly created one at the company but was in development before the July 2 failure. He will report directly to ILS President Phil Slack, the press release said.

The July 2 Proton failure, which destroyed three Russian Glonass navigation satellites, has been attributed to improperly installed motion sensors on the vehicle’s first stage. The mishap was the fifth involving Proton since late 2010, with all but one occurring on Russian government missions.

In an email, Monaghan said ILS developed the new position as part of “a proactive approach to enhance its mission assurance program and provide improved quality oversight for our customers and the insurance community.”

Pysher, who comes to ILS with more than 20 years of experience in the commercial launch industry, also will be responsible for overseeing ILS product development activities at Khrunichev, the press release said.

Prior to joining ILS, Pysher was chief operating officer of Energia Logistics United States, where he was responsible for engineering and operations of Sea Launch, a provider of commercial launch services. Energia Logistics, a major subcontractor to Sea Launch, is a U.S. offshoot of Moscow-RSC Energia, the majority owner of Sea Launch. 

Before that, Pysher was vice president and chief systems engineer for Boeing-Sea Launch, the press release said. Chicago-based Boeing was a founding partner in Sea Launch, which launches satellites to geostationary orbit from a floating platform near the equator.

“Kirk is an excellent addition to our team and is a well-respected leader in the commercial launch services market,” Slack said in a prepared statement. “His extensive experience in launch services and international partnerships will serve our customers and the insurance community very well.”