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WASHINGTON, March 20. /TASS/. Russia’s workhorse space rocket Proton will stay competitive on the world market at least for ten years to come until it can be replaced by a new generation rocket, Angara, the chief of the Khrunichev state-run space research and production center, Andrey Kalinovsky, told TASS in an interview. He was taking part in a recent major international conference on space satellites.
Kalinovsky, appointed to lead the Khrunichev center last August, acknowledged that the company had encountered major problems, some of them following failed launches of Proton rockets.
"Over the past few years we had problems with honoring contractual liabilities in terms of both quality and deadlines. In other words, we were not the best partner for our customers," he said.
The Khrunichev center’s problems have had an adverse impact on the performance of its US-based daughter company — International Launch Services — which promotes Protons to foreign markets. Last year the company carried out just two commercial launches.
"We don’t stay idle," Kalinovsky said.
This year five or six commercial launches of Proton rockets are to take place. There are contracts for three launches in 2016 and two in 2017.
"Negotiations over several other contracts are in progress," Kalinovsky said.
He speculated that under the federal space programs investment into the Khrunichev center’s development might total tens of billions of rubles over several years to come.
The plans for the Khrunichev Center’s corporatization remain effective, he added.
"That is to be done by the end of this year," he said. As of January 1, 2016 will become a full-fledged joint-stock company.