Boeing has begun propellant-loading tests on the Delta IV booster to prepare for first flight of the US Air Force-funded Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV). The tests are under way at Cape Canaveral, with the Delta IV due to fly a commercial mission, carrying a Eutelsat W-5 communications satellite, on 9 October. Meanwhile, on 21 August, Lockheed Martin's Atlas V EELV will embark on an International Launch Services commercial flight from Cape Canaveral, carrying the Eutelsat Hot Bird 6 satellite.

Meanwhile, the next Boeing Delta II launch from Cape Canaveral, carrying the Navstar GPS 2R8 satellite, has been postponed from August to allow more time to study wire-harness issues.

n The French government has signed a contract with Arianespace to launch the 4,200kg (9,250lb) Helios 2A military reconnaissance satellite. The spacecraft will be launched into a sun-synchronous orbit from Kourou on an Ariane 5 booster with four signals intelligence satellites in 2004.

Source: Flight International