Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

JV After 1/2 Of Satellite Launches

International Launch Services, a joint venture between Russia's Khrunichego Aerospace and U.S.-based Lockheed-Martin, hopes to control over 50 percent of the world's commercial satellite launch market by the year 2000, a spokesman for the Russian company said.

The joint venture was concluded in May after Lockheed completed its merger with Martin Marietta.

International Launch Services will offer clients a choice between Khrunichego's Proton or Lockheed-Martin's Atlas for launching commercial satellites, said Sergei Zhiltsov, public affairs director for the company.

"We think there is a big demand for the boosters of this class on the market, and I am sure we can gain a bigger share of it," Zhiltsov said in an interview Tuesday.

The U.S.-Russian partnership will have its work cut out for it, however.

At present the companies control 17 percent of the world market, far behind the European consortium Ariane, which takes about three-quarters of all satellites into orbit.

The unmanned rockets are designed with a cargo bay to carry the satellites for various telecommunications and broadcasting services.

The Russian side, which holds a 50 percent share in the joint venture, is providing technology, rockets and launch facilities.

The American side is responsible for marketing activities and lining up clients.

The joint venture has already signed more than 20 contracts with foreign companies worth as much as $1.5 billion over the next six years, Zhiltsov said.

Zhiltsov did not specify how much each launch could cost, but industry experts put the price at between $60 million and $90 million each.

The first launch is scheduled for 1996 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.