Russia's ILS International Launch Services Proton K booster - seen launching the PanAmsat 8 from Baikonur on 4 November - will carry at least eight international commercial communications satellites in 1999. These will include the first Hughes-built satellite for ICO Global Services, which will be placed into a medium earth orbit to begin the establishment of a 10-satellite fleet to provide worldwide mobile communications services to compete with the Iridium and Globalstar systems. The Proton is also scheduled to launch two national Yamal 100 series communications satellites for the Gasprom natural gas production company during the next 12 months. Another national launch during the year is expected to demonstrate a new Breeze M upper stage, which will increase the Proton's geostationary orbit (GEO) lifting capability from 2,600kg to 3,200kg. A planned cryogenic stage will lift 4,500kg to GEO.

Source: Flight International