International Launch Services (ILS) has announced its first commercial shared launch using a Proton Breeze M with the Eutelsat 5 West B satellite and MEV-1, the first Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) developed by Orbital ATK. In addition, ILS announced the first commercial contract incorporating the use of the newly announced Proton Medium launch vehicle. Both launches are for Eutelsat Communications.
The shared launch on Proton Breeze M will carry the Eutelsat 5 West B satellite, built on Orbital ATK’s GEOStar satellite platform, with an Airbus Defence and Space-built payload stacked on top of Orbital ATK’s MEV-1 spacecraft for launch in the last quarter of 2018. The MEV (Mission Extension Vehicle) will test the company’s proposed satellite life extension service, designed to rendezvous and dock with satellites to carry out on-orbit extension, repair and servicing. Earlier this year, it was announced that Intelsat had signed up as the first customer for the service.
The second mission is baselined with the Proton Medium launch vehicle with launch to be conducted in the 2019-2020 timeframe. The payload has not been revealed. Both missions will be launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
These two missions for Eutelsat are included under the Multi-Launch Agreement (MLA) announced by ILS in October of last year. The MLA was designed to provide Eutelsat with schedule flexibility and assured access to space “at cost-effective prices” over a seven-year period. The first mission launched under the MLA was the Eutelsat 9B satellite on January 30, 2016.
The Proton Medium vehicle was introduced last month, along with the Proton Light vehicle, during World Satellite Business Week in Paris. The vehicles are a product line extension of the commercial Proton Breeze M designed to expand the Proton addressable GEO market with competitive launch solutions in the small and medium satellite class range (3 to 5 metric tons). The vehicles are 2-stage versions of the Proton Breeze M launch system developed for exclusive commercial use by ILS.