The satellite operator, Eutelsat, and the commercial launch provider, International Launch Services (ILS), have announced that Eutelsat has taken out a multi-launch agreement with ILS to use the Proton launch vehicle up to 2023. The news is a boost to ILS whose Proton rocket launches have become a byword for suspect reliability. The Eutelsat 9B will be the first satellite to be launched on this ILS Proton launch contract.
Eutelsat also announced that it is to take an Ariane 5 launch on a “sole” payload basis – paying the full launch price (estimated to be in excess of US$200 million) to ensure that its Eutelsat 65 West A satellite is in position in time to provide services for the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Arianespace had been struggling to find a smaller satellite to match with it in its schedule, which threatened to delay the launch well into 2017.
This launch is believed to have been originally ordered in a tranche of four undisclosed satellite identity Ariane launch reservations (to take place in 2016-2017) taken by Eutelsat in February 2013.