The first flight under the US Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) programme was made on 10 March. A two-stage Boeing Delta IV Medium booster - the first all-cryogenic satellite launcher - carried the 1,235kg (2,700lb) Lockheed Martin-built Defense Satellite Communications System DSCS 3-A3 spacecraft into geostationary transfer orbit.

The launch, from Boeing's Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral, Florida, had been postponed four times from 7 February. It was the second launch for the Delta IV, following the maiden flight of a Medium-Plus version on a commercial mission in November, carrying the Eutelsat W5 communications satellite.

The $299 million DSCS 3-A3 satellite will replace DSCS B12 launched in 1992. The final DSCS 3 craft - B6 - will be launched later this year. Four more Delta IV launches are planned this year, including the demonstration flight of the first Heavy variant from Canaveral in September and the first launch of a Delta IV from Vandenberg AFB, California, carrying a polar-orbiting National Reconnaissance Office satellite.


Source: Flight International