Boeing has formed a mission assurance review team to examine the company's Delta, Sea Launch and Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) programmes following recent launch vehicle failures.

A Delta III failed this May as did an IUS, aboard a Titan IVB, in April.

The team will examine organisational roles and responsibilities within Boeing, recent launch vehicle failure investigation findings, the processes used for launches, and the acceptance processes used for major subsystems and complex assemblies from suppliers. It will also look at the manufacturing, assembly, transportation and storage of Boeing launchers.

The group, which is expected to complete a report by the end of the third quarter of this year, was commissioned by Boeing Space and Communications Group president James Albaugh.

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin's initial investigation into the failure of an Athena 2 booster on 27 April has confirmed that the electrical signal which should have triggered the charge to split the payload shroud into two parts did not work correctly. The signal foundered because there were open circuits in redundant connectors.

As suspected, faulty computer software is being blamed for the failure of the Centaur upper stage that stranded a Milstar military communications satellite in useless orbit after a Titan IVB launch on 30 April, says the US Air Force. Faulty computer software in the inertial guidance system went undetected during pre-launch inspections.

A USAF team is investigating the cause of $1 million-worth of damage to a global positioning system (GPS) satellite on its Delta II booster on 8 May, resulting in cancellation of the launch. During a storm, rain leaked through the protective roof on the gantry surrounding the rocket-satellite stack at Cape Canaveral.

A replacement GPS Block 2R satellite is being prepared for launch in September.

Source: Flight International