Russian-U.S. venture signs new Proton-M launch deal

By RIA Novosti

Moscow : Russian-American joint venture International Launch Services (ILS) has signed a contract to launch two U.S. commercial satellites, the Khrunichev State Research and Production Center said on Monday.

Support TwoCircles

ILS, owned by the Khrunichev Center, RSC Energia, and U.S. firm Space Transport Inc. provides spacecraft launch services on board Proton-M carrier rockets. The company received $1.5 billion in new launch orders in 2007.

“The contract is for the launch of two satellites for the SIRIUS Satellite Radio constellation,” a Khrunichev spokesman said.

One of the satellites, the SIRIUS FM-6, is currently under construction at Space Systems/Loral, a U.S. company, and is expected to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2010.

SIRIUS Satellite Radio is one of two satellite radio services operating in the United States and Canada, along with XM Satellite Radio.

ILS launched SIRIUS’ initial constellation of three Radiosat satellites in 2000.

The Khrunichev official also said the latest deal is the third Proton-M contract signed since the beginning of the year.

In January and February, ILS signed agreements with two companies from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to orbit their telecommunication satellites.

ILS launches its heavy Proton-M carrier rockets from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.