MOSCOW — International Launch Services expects its new, scaled-down variant of Proton-M to be a more direct competitor with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket than the current heavy-lift version ILS has used for decades.
Kirk Pysher, president of ILS, said the company is banking on Proton Medium as the company’s next step — a vehicle more important to the commercial sector than Angara 5, Russia’s modular, next-generation launcher, which ILS has commercial rights to like Proton. Angara 5 is optimized for heavyweight spacecraft as a direct replacement for Proton-M starting in 2025, but would likely be applicable for just one to two missions per year, Pysher said, and that launch rate would not be enough to constitute a steady business.
“We need to target something between $65 [million] and $55 million as the price point, and the Angara 5 vehicle will not be able to do that,” Pysher told SpaceNews. “That is why it is not really the right fit for the current commercial market as we see it today. We need that family of vehicles that the variants address.”
SpaceX advertises $62 million for a Falcon 9 launch to geostationary transfer orbit.
Proton Medium is a variant of Proton-M ...