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Last Updated: Monday, 13 December, 2004, 11:48 GMT
Week's delay for Delta launcher
The Delta-4 Heavy can put 13 tonnes into a geostationary transfer orbit

Boeing's new heavy-lift Delta 4 rocket must wait a further week before making its maiden flight from Florida, US.

All the technical issues on the 70m-tall (230ft) vehicle that delayed its weekend blast-off have been resolved, but the rocket has now missed its slot.

A Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 has a launch booked on Friday and it will take a few days to prepare Cape Canaveral's tracking and communication systems.

It is possible the Delta 4-Heavy could now lift-off on Tuesday 21 December.

However, this will depend on the Atlas 5 leaving on time and the Cape's systems being reconfigured satisfactorily for the Boeing vehicle.

Sunday's launch was scrubbed to give engineers the opportunity to determine what caused a temperature control system to malfunction after Saturday's aborted.

The Delta 4-Heavy currently has no commercial orders. The maiden flight is a demonstration launch that will lift a 6.5-tonne dummy satellite and two 16kg (35lbs) research nanosats called Ralphie and Sparky.

Atlas 5 is rolled to its launch pad (Lockheed Martin)
Lockheed Martin's Atlas 5 series is a competitor
The vehicle is capable of pushing 13 tonnes of payload towards a geostationary orbit.

Boeing faces stiff competition at home in the form of Lockheed Martin, which is developing a heavy-lift capability on its Atlas rocket series, as well as from international launch service providers, such as Europe's Arianespace.

The latter plans to fly its heavy rocket, the Ariane 5-ECA, from Kourou in French Guiana in January.

It will be a second attempt for the "10-tonne" Ariane; its maiden flight ended in an explosive failure in 2002.

It is possible the heavy-lift Delta and Atlas rockets could form part of the launcher system that succeeds the space shuttle, taking astronauts to the International Space Station and beyond.

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