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ILS President Departs Proton Flies Last Scheduled Commercial Launch

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
October 10, 2019
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MOSCOW (Khrunichev PR) — Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, the majority shareholder of ILS International Launch Services, Inc., (“ILS”) announced the departure of Kirk Pysher as ILS President. John Palme, ILS Chief Operations Officer, will serve as interim President until a successor is appointed.

Mr. Alexey Varochko, KhSC Director General, expressed his thanks to Mr. Pysher for his work on offering Proton M launch services on the global market.

“We appreciate Kirk’s leadership over the past four years and his firm support of our quality initiatives. This quality focus has paid large dividends as Proton currently has 18 consecutive successful launches over the past three years. We wish Kirk all the best in his future endeavors,” said Mr. Varochko.

In a separate action, the ILS Board of Directors announced that it has engaged outside counsel, Thomas P. Tshudy, former Senior Vice President and General Counsel for ILS, to serve as special counsel to advise the company on a variety of legal matters to assure legal and regulatory compliance as the company makes organizational changes and transitions to providing broadened customer offerings.

Mr. Varochko further stated, “With the ILS reorganization we are on the verge of a new era for Russian commercial space.

ILS will be also working with GK Launch Services to leverage the capability of two very successful launch vehicles: Proton and Soyuz to provide customers broad offerings and mutual back-up.

Proton launch vehicles will be produced and available to ILS to meet the needs of every customer ordered Proton M launch service,” concluded Mr. Varochko.

Editor’s Note: The departure was announced as Proton flew its last scheduled commercial launch, delivering the Eutelsat-5 West B communications satellite and the first Mission Extension Vehicle, MEV-1, to orbit.

Proton was once a dominant force in commercial satellite launches and a big money maker for Russia. However, SpaceX’s lower-cost Falcon 9 has eaten away at the market.

The Russians will continue to launch Proton boosters for domestic satellites and any commercial customers Khrunichev can sign up another four or five years while the Angara family of rockets is gradually phased in.

4 responses to “ILS President Departs Proton Flies Last Scheduled Commercial Launch”

  1. schmoe says:

    Also wanted to note that a couple weeks ago Khrunichev had announced that it will be producing 15 more Protons, after which it will be retired.

    My eulogy for the Proton: It has given us THE most memorable launch footage ever– With the hammered-in upside-down accelerometers which steered the rocket into a 180-degree U-turn seconds after liftoff, breaks apart, and makes an earth-shattering kaboom as the pieces hit the ground and explodes. Priceless! 😀

  2. duheagle says:

    Mr. Varochko further stated, “With the ILS reorganization we are on the verge of a new era for Russian commercial space.”

    Well, he’s certainly right about that. The new era will be the one in which Russian commercial space doesn’t exist.

    I’d like to think a few glasses will quietly be raised tonight in Hawthorne by the people most directly responsible for bringing this moment about.

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