Boeing has successfully launched a Delta III booster after two earlier failures, but the mission was marred when a dummy satellite onboard did not reach its intended apogee of orbit.

The satellite, known as DM-F3, fell 2,707km (1,680 miles) short of its apogee after the Delta launch from Cape Canaveral on 23 August. The company was investigating the reasons for the shortfall.

The $85 million demonstration flight funded by Boeing placed the 4,310kg (9,500lb) dummy satellite payload into orbit after a re-start of its cryogenic upper stage powered by a Centaur-class Pratt & WhitneyRL-10 engine. The satellite was deployed from the upper stage 2,400km lower than planned.

Despite that, Boeing says the deployment met "the commitment performance that would have been given to a commercial customer". The eventual apogee of the intended 181km by 23,378km orbit was not achieved. US Space Command says that the parameters are 153km by 20,671km.

Source: Flight International