New pad to be built to accommodate additional work as launches are reallocated

The transfer of seven US Air Force Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) contracts from Boeing's Delta IV to Lockheed Martin's Atlas V will not take effect until 2006, according to the manifest of planned launches by the two fleets.

The reallocation is punishment for Boeing's misappropriation of Lockheed Martin data during the original EELV competition.

Four payloads have been transferred to the Atlas V for launches in 2006-7, two in 2008-9 and one later in the USAF's EELV schedule, which includes seven Delta IV launches from 2003-6 and two in 2008-9.

Boeing originally held 19 EELV launch contracts, against Lockheed Martin's seven. Another Delta IV launch - a non-EELV flight funded by Boeing - will demonstrate the Delta IV Heavy, carrying a dummy payload from Cape Canaveral, Florida. A Delta IV Heavy pad is being built at Vandenberg AFB, California.

Lockheed Martin now has 14 EELV contracts to Boeing's 12, and has been cleared to build a pad at Vandenberg AFB for some of the additional launches, which will use a Heavy version of the Atlas V. The first Atlas V EELV mission, carrying the Wideband Gapfiller Satellite 2, is scheduled for 2005, from Cape Canaveral. The first mission transferred from the Delta IV is planned for 2006, carrying a National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite from Vandenberg.

The next Delta IV EELV launch, carrying the Defense Space Communications System III-B6 satellite, will be in early September after it missed its 4 August slot because of launch vehicle problems. Canaveral is booked for an NRO satellite launch on a Lockheed Martin Titan 4 on 18-20 August and NASA's Space Infrared Telescope Facility on a Delta II on 24-25 August.

Source: Flight International