Boeing's Delta II, III and IV launcher programmes have been merged into a single organisation to be led by Dan Collins - the former vice president of the Delta IV Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle programme.

The move is intended to provide "continuity of service to Delta II and III customers and to bring production into a single entity to ensure efficient management", Boeing says. Meanwhile, it has pushed back the first launch of its Delta IV from the last quarter of this year to the first quarter of 2002.

The model will be a commercial variant of the booster, a Delta IV Medium carrying a dummy payload if a customer cannot be found. The second launch of four now planned for 2002 will carry the US Defense Space Programme (DSP) early warning satellite. Boeing hopes to find a commercial customer for the third flight, while the fourth flight will introduce the Delta IV Heavy version. It does not plan any Delta III launches in 2001.

A Delta IV will launch the Defense Meteorological Satellite Programme DMSP 17 satellite into polar orbit from Vandenberg AFB, California, in 2003 as part of the 22-EELV US Air Force launch manifest. Recent DMSP launches were made by the Lockheed Martin Titan II, the latest of which has been delayed for two months after launch aborts on 19 and 23 January.

Five Delta IV models are being built - three Medium, a Medium Plus and a Heavy.

Source: Flight International