McDonnell Douglas Gets Launcher Deal

McDonnell Douglas Corp. received a boost Friday when it won a two-year, $59-million contract to build a prototype of a reusable launch vehicle capable of vertical take-offs and landings for the proposed "Star Wars" antimissile program.

Under the award from the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, McDonnell Douglas Space Systems Co. will build a demonstration model of the launch vehicle, which must be capable of carrying a 20,000-pound payload into low Earth orbit.

The new rocket would be less costly to operate because it could carry a heavier payload and could be reused. The Delta II costs about $50 million per commercial launch and is not reusable.

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