The Communications Directorate of Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center has informed RIA Novosti that the next commercial launch of the Proton rocket with non-Russian satellites is scheduled to take place in March 2019. The Eutelsat-5West and MEV-1 satellites will be put into orbit.
Also in February next year, Proton is to put the Yamal-601 satellite into orbit for Gazprom Space Systems. In addition, the military Blagovest (‘Annunciation or Good News’) communications satellite is scheduled for launch in the first quarter of next year.
In 2018 Proton has been launched only once so far in April putting the military Blagovest No. 2 satellite into orbit. Another Proton launch with the Blagovest No. 3 satellite is planned before the end of the year. The Proton launch statistics for the recent years is as follows: 4 launches in 2017, 3 launches in 2016, 8 launches both in 2014 and 2015, 10 launches both in 2012 and 2013.
During a launch in 2016, some issues were detected, but overall it was a successful launch. As a result, Roscosmos recalled some rocket engine for reworking, and Protons were not launched for a year.
According to Alexander Medvedev, the chief designer of launch vehicles, deputy general director of the TsNIIMash rocket and spacecraft scientific center, the reduction in the production of Proton-M rockets will increase its cost by 2.5 times.