Khrunichev reforms quality control after two launch failures

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Following two launch failures of the Proton rocket within eight months its Russian manufacturer, Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, and its launch provider joint venture, International Launch Services, have announced a quality initiative for Khrunichev and its subcontractors.

On 6 September 2007 a Proton second-stage failure led to the loss of the JCSAT-11 spacecraft and on 14 March this year a Breeze M upper-stage second burn failure meant the Lockheed Martin-built AMC-14 satellite was lost.

The quality initiative's key elements include appointment of a quality control and management deputy director general incorporating Khrunichev's subsidiaries into a unified enterprise-wide quality management system (QMS) recertification of the QMS by a certified independent auditor continued yearly audits and recertification increased employee quality awareness through an excellence programme and a re-evaluation of all factors to improve the launch vehicle design quality.

"This is a broad-based initiative and not just focused on the specific issues related to the AMC-14 Proton Breeze M failure. This will reinforce our dedication to quality across the board," says Khrunichev general director Vladimir Nesterov.