International Launch Services (ILS) is the company contracted by Astra to launch the thirds and final new UK TV satellite, Astra 2G.
ILS generally use Russian Proton rockets for their launches.
Recently ILS has said that it had reduced its forecasted launch rate of Russian Proton rockets to three to four per year from seven to eight missions previously planned.
ILS has been suffering from two main issues that have put pressure on its launches.
The first is the spate of failures aboard the venerable Proton vehicle, all seemingly caused by disparate workforce-quality issues. These failures have occurred on Russian government missions but have nonetheless affected ILS, in large part by grounding the Proton.
The second is the rising tension between Russia and the West about Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. While this issue and the related Western sanctions against Russia have not yet forced ILS customers to cancel their launch plans, it has made it more difficult for ILS to regain traction in the market as it rebounds from the launch anomalies.
ILS expects to assemble a review board in September to assess the results of a Russian investigation into the May 2014 Proton failure. The review, Slack said, will likely permit Proton to return to commercial flights this autumn.
Slack said that under current planning, which could change, the Proton rocket is scheduled to return to flight starting in late September or early October with back-to-back launches for the Russian government.
Once these two launches are completed, there is likely will be room for two more Proton missions in 2014. He said ILS is likely to be assigned at least one of these, in which case it would launch the Astra 2G television satellite, owned by SES of Luxembourg.
Slack said it was too soon to determine ILS’s schedule after the SES launch until Proton’s overall manifest was made more clear by Russian government authorities.
So from this, we can expect the launch of Astra 2G to happen late 2014.