McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co. in Huntington Beach has received an order from the Indonesian government to launch a commercial communications satellite into orbit using a McDonnell Douglas Delta II rocket.
McDonnell Douglas officials did not disclose terms of the order, but they said commercial Delta launches typically cost about $50 million. The Indonesian agreement marks the fifth commercial order for the Delta rockets since August, 1987.
Indonesia plans to launch its Palapa satellite in early 1990 from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The satellite will electronically link about 3,000 inhabited islands in the 13,500-island Indonesian archipelago. It will transmit telephone and television signals among the islands.
"There are a lot of communities being brought on line in Indonesia each year that were too remote to have communication with the rest of the country," said George Weischadle, president of Van Nuys-based Sattel Technologies, a satellite design company that is working with the Indonesian government.
After a 2 1/2-year shut-down, McDonnell Douglas reopened its Delta production line in January, 1987, after receiving a U.S. Air Force contract to build 20 Deltas for launching navigation satellites. The contract has a potential value of nearly $1 billion.
McDonnell Douglas has been seeking commercial customers for the Delta since the space shuttle Challenger explosion in January, 1986, led to NASA's decision to drop out of the commercial launch business.
McDonnell Douglas' first commercial Delta launch of a satellite for the government of India is scheduled for spring of 1989.
The Deltas are built in Huntington Beach and assembled at a McDonnell Douglas plant in Pueblo, Colo. The company has said it expects to have 1,700 people employed on the Delta program in Huntington Beach by the end of 1989.