Boeing’s Delta 3 Successfully Puts Data-gathering Payload
The Boeing Co.‘s [BA] Delta 3 launch vehicle successfully launched its first satellite, a simulated payload, at 7:05 a.m. EDT, Aug. 23, giving the fledgling rocket a chance to gain much-needed customer confidence, following fiery failures in its only two previous launch attempts.The loss of a valuable commercial satellite during each of the two previous failures led Boeing to launch a data-gathering, simulated payload. The stakes for Boeing are high, since the Delta 3 is scheduled to launch a backlog of 18 satellites.The data collected from the payload will help Boeing officials to reassure customers that the Delta 3 is able to provide reliable access to space. The Delta 3 can carry 8,400 pounds, or 3,800 kg, to geosynchronous transfer orbit, or twice the payload of the Delta 2 launcher. A larger fairing is used to meet the industry demand for bigger payloads. The launcher also uses a new cryogenically propelled upper stage with a Pratt & Whitney engine.The follow-on Delta 4 launcher is expected to become available for commercial service next year. The Delta 3 was intended to serve as a transitional launch vehicle between the Delta 2 and planned Delta 4. Failures in the first two Delta 3 launches delayed the implementation of that strategy.