24 May 2018 14:32

Russia's Khrunichev Center scraps Proton Medium LV project for economic reasons - source

MOSCOW. May 24 (Interfax) - Russia's Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center has decided not to go ahead with its project to develop the Proton-L (Proton Medium) two-stage launch vehicle (LV), a source at the center told Interfax.

"The project to create the Proton-L launch vehicle will not be pursued for financial reasons," the source said.

Several media outlets reported earlier, citing Andrei Pankratov, the Khrunichev Center's deputy general director of foreign economic relations, that the center planned to launch 24 Proton rockets in various modifications by 2025. At that time, the enterprise offered both the traditional Proton-M and also its light-weight version, the Proton-L (called Proton Medium by foreign customers), which does not have a third stage.

The Khrunichev Center announced in 2017 that it was going to design a new family of launch vehicles. These would be optimized two-stage versions of the Proton-M and would be used exclusively to lift commercial payloads into orbit under contracts signed with the Khrunichev Center's subsidiary, International Launch Services (ILS). By putting the light-weight and medium-weight Proton LVs into service, the center hoped to launch economically effective operations to put light-weight and medium-weight spacecraft (weighing 3-5 tonnes) into geostationary orbits in line with customers' requirements, thus bolstering the Proton LV's commercial potential in the geostationary satellite market.