Tim Furniss/LONDON

A PROTON BOOSTER, is scheduled to be launched, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan on 28 March, marking Russia's entry into the commercial geostationary satellite launcher market. The payload will be a Hughes HS-601 spacecraft, the Astra 1F, built for the Luxembourg-based Soci,t, Europ,ene des Satellites.

The Proton is being co-marketed with the Lockheed Martin Atlas fleet under the name of ILS International Launch Services, a joint venture between Khrunichev, NPO Energia and Lockheed Martin. The Astra 1F contract was secured before the formation of ILS, however, which has won one contract to launch the PanAmSat 5 satellite - another HS-601 - in 1997.

Three other pre-ILS Proton launches are scheduled for 1996, starting in June, with the flight of the Loral Space-built Tempo 1 direct-broadcast satellite.

Launches scheduled for the third quarter of 1996 are of the Echostar 2, built by Lockheed Martin Astro Space, and the Astro Space-built Inmarsat 3F4.

Smaller, low-Earth-orbit satellites will be launched this year for international customers. The Cosmos booster will fly the USA's Faisat 2, with a German sub-satellite. The Interbol 2 satellite, to be launched on a Molniya booster, will carry the Czech Republic's Magion 5 and Argentina's MSat.

The Chilean air force's Surrey Satellite Technology-built FASat Bravo, will fly piggyback on a Tsyklon booster carrying the Ukrainian Sich 2 ocean-monitoring spacecraft. Chile's FASat Alpha did not separate from the Sich 1 spacecraft after launch, in 1995.

Arianespace's contract to launch Egypt's Nilesat (Flight International, 24-30 January) was confirmed on 25 January, bringing the company's backlog to 39 satellites. The company has ordered, an extra ten Ariane 4 launch vehicles, giving additional capacity in 1998 and 1999. Sixteen Ariane 5s are also on order. Some 130 launchers of both types are now under contract - with a further 50 Ariane 5s to be ordered this year.

Source: Flight International