Space Exploration Technologies' Falcon 9 rocket may not launch Avanti Communications' Highly Adaptable Satellite (Hylas) telecommunications satellite.
Hylas prime contractor EADS Astrium is discussing alternate launchers with Avanti. Falcon 9's maiden flight will be a year late if it lifts off by the end of this year from its Cape Canaveral launch complex.
"Hylas will be ready to launch in the middle of 2010. The launcher delay is not helping us at all," says EADS Astrium satellites chief executive Evert Dudok.
Next year SpaceX also has to launch a payload for Canadian technology company MDA and has two launches planned under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services programme.
The satellite itself is also late in its construction. Dudok admits that the development of Hylas's flexible payload technology has been harder than expected.
Hylas's I-2K platform is being built by Indian Space Research Organisation's commercial arm Antrix. In January the Antrix-built W2M satellite, operated by Eutelsat, had a solar array failure. The W2M uses the I-3K platform, Hylas would not use this solar array design.