International Launch Services

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ILS International Launch Services, Inc.
Industry Aerospace and defense
Founded 1995
Headquarters Reston, Virginia, USA
Key people
Phil Slack, President
Products Proton rocket
Number of employees
Parent Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center

International Launch Services (ILS) is an American-Russian joint venture with exclusive rights to the worldwide sale of commercial Proton rocket launch services from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.


ILS was formed in 1995 as a private spaceflight partnership between Lockheed Martin (LM), Khrunichev and Energia. ILS initially co-marketed non-military launches on both the U.S. Atlas and the Russian Proton expendable launch vehicles.

With the Atlas V launch of the SES 1KR satellite on April 20, 2006, ILS had made 100 launches, 97 of which were successful.[1]

In September 2006, Lockheed-Martin announced its intention to sell its ownership interests in Lockheed Khrunichev Energia International, Inc. (LKEI) and ILS International Launch Services, Inc. (ILS) to Space Transport Inc.[2] Space Transport Inc. was formed specifically for this transaction by Mario Lemme, who has been a consultant to ILS since its inception and a Board member for more than three years.[3]

The transaction between Lockheed Martin and Space Transport Inc. completed in October 2006. Lockheed Martin has retained all rights related to marketing the commercial Atlas vehicle and is continuing to offer Atlas launch services to the worldwide commercial market through its subsidiary, Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services, Inc. (LMCLS). ILS, no longer affiliated with Lockheed Martin, continued to market the Proton launch vehicles to commercial clients. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.[4] All Atlas V launches are now managed by United Launch Alliance, a joint-venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing (IDS/Defense, Space & Security/Launch Services) formed in December 2006, with all commercial Atlas V launches sub-contracted for ULA by LMCLS.

In October 2006, Krunichev spokesman said that the firm was ready to buy the stake being sold by Lockheed Martin. Russian space agency spokesman said that despite that Lockheed is selling its stake to Space Transport, Khrunichev may eventually end up owning it. He expressed the desire of the Russian side to increase its presence in the joint venture. Space Transport Inc, registered in the British Virgin Islands and headquartered in Moscow, denied that it would be selling the stake.[5]

In May 2008, Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, a Russian company, acquired all of Space Transport's interest and is now the majority shareholder in ILS. ILS will remain a U.S. company and headquarters are currently in Reston, Virginia, near Washington, D.C. where approximately 60 employees are based.[6]

Proton launches[edit]

In May 2008, ILS had a backlog of 22 orders, totaling approximately $2 billion, and had flown 45 commercial Proton missions since 1996.[6] By June 2009, the backlog had grown to 24 firm missions. The 50th ILS Proton launch took place in early 2009.[7]

In January 2014 ILS had an order book of 14 launches worth more than $1 billion, with up to 6 launches planned for 2014. Most Proton payloads are too massive to launch with the less powerful Falcon 9 rocket, and there were no spare Ariane 5 launch opportunities,[when?] so Proton customers cannot easily switch to other launchers.[8]

Atlas launches[edit]

After October 2006, ILS focused solely on the Proton launch vehicle, so no longer offered Atlas launches.[9] The first Atlas launch was the Atlas IIAS Intelsat 704 launch on 10 January 1995 and the last was the Atlas V Astra 1KR launch on 20 April 2006.[10]

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