Beal Aerospace is laying off over half of its workforce because its BA-2 commercial satellite launch vehicle programme has gone over budget and fallen behind schedule.

Around 80 workers will be laid off at Beal's Dallas, Texas, headquarters as the company adopts a step-by-step approach to the programme rather than continuing to develop BA-2 components, such as tanks and engines, in tandem.

Engine development is continuing to progress, however. The BA-2's second stage engine, the BA-810 - said to be the third most powerful liquid propellant engine ever developed - has been successfully tested and the development of the more powerful first stage engine is progressing, but the first test firing that was planned for May next year is likely to be delayed.

The BA-2 was to have been launched in 2002 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with a payload capacity of 6,000kg to geostationary transfer orbit. But this is now likely to be delayed.

Source: Flight International