No less than 18 Boeing Delta IV boosters will be launched to 2004, Gale Schluter, vice-president and general manager of Boeing Expendable Launch Vehicles said at the show yesterday.

The maiden flight of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) being built for the US Air Force is scheduled for its maiden launch in April 2002. Three more operational launches are planned for the year, with a US Air Force Defense Space Communications Satellite, followed by the first commercial launch, carrying the Estrela do Sul communications satellite. The final launch of 2002 will be a demonstration flight of the Delta IV Heavy vehicle, with a similar capability to the Titan IV which it will eventually replace. This booster will be able to place 23,000kg (50,000lb) into low Earth orbit.

Up to five Government and one commercial launch are so far booked for 2003, and eight launches are planned for 2004.Four military, nine NASA and possibly five commercial payloads will be launched by the workhorse Delta II to the end of 2002, said Schluter, who added that the Delta III is still assigned up to 12 launches although none are planned for this year. The future of this Boeing-funded vehicle has to be in doubt, as a result of a launch record of two failures and one partially successful demonstration mission. Its payloads could theoretically be transferred to the small version of the Delta IV.

Schluter also reported that the first flight engine of the Delta IV will be delivered in July and testing the RS-68 cryogenic first stage of the Delta IV is 75% complete.

Source: Flight Daily News