31 August 2018
Space News reports that Russia has suspended development of the Proton Medium rocket, which “International Launch Services (ILS) began marketing two years ago as its answer to SpaceX’s Falcon 9.” Although ILS has already signed up multiple customers for the rocket, ILS details plans to switch them to the more powerful Proton Breeze M launch system for no additional cost. In a statement, ILS confirmed that Proton Medium development “has been placed on an indefinite hold” as Roscosmos conducts “an extensive review and analysis of the Russian space sector including the Proton and Angara launch systems.” The Proton Medium was promoted as a “simpler, more cost-competitive” version of the Proton Breeze M. ILS has not disclosed “how many Proton Medium missions it has under contract.” ILS owner and Moscow-backed Khrunichev State Research and Production Center placed Proton Medium development on hold as Russia “weighs a speedier transition to the Angara family of rockets meant to replace Proton.” According to Roscosmos head Dmitry Rogozin, simultaneously producing “both old and new heavy-duty rockets...will inevitably lead to the financial collapse of the enterprise. Eternal state support is impossible and inefficient, so we need to concentrate on what is most important, and that is the Angara launch vehicle in light, medium, heavy and – in the future – super-heavy variants.” (Image: 2011-2012 ISS crew members: U.S. astronaut Donald Pettit, right, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, center, and Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers, left, pose with mock-up of Russian Proton rocket at Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, 15 Dec. 2011. Credit: Associated Press–©)
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