Boeing will fly the third Delta III booster in August with a dummy satellite, to prove to customers that it can deliver payloads into orbit after two failures in 1998 and 1999. The move was expected, as no customer has been willing to risk a launch on the rocket, which exploded on its first mission and suffered an upper stage failure on its second.

Boeing will spend $85 million on the demonstration flight, which will carry into elliptical orbit a 4,490kg (9,890lb) inert steel and aluminium payload simulating a communications satellite.

Meanwhile, the $100 million launch of the Navstar GPS 2R-5 satellite aboard a Delta II booster from Cape Canaveral on 15 June was delayed due to a mismatch between the second and first stages of the booster during mating. Precise measurements of the components are being made to determine which section is creating the misalignment.

Source: Flight International