Boeing Operation Skyrockets

The former McDonnell Douglas space systems operation in Huntington Beach--now part of Boeing Co.'s space transportation unit--this year is seeing a booming demand for its products, Delta rockets.

In fact, at the same time it was announcing that it will trim an additional 8,200 jobs over the next two years, Boeing was advertising for 500 engineers and technicians at the Huntington Beach facility.

The Delta, it seems, is an ideal carrier for the spate of telecommunications and navigation satellites being launched these days.

By the end of the year, 17 Deltas will have been launched. The fourth one took off Sunday, carrying five satellites for Iridium World Communications Inc.

While government agencies have bought six of the rockets, 11 are being launched for commercial customers such as Iridium, said Jay Witzling, division director of the Delta II and Titan programs.

Additionally, Boeing is getting ready to market a new Delta III series. Its 8,400-pound payload is about twice what the Delta II can carry aloft. The Delta III was developed for the commercial market, without use of government funds. Its first payload is the Galaxy X telecommunications satellite built by Hughes Space and Communications Co., which has contracted for 13 Delta III launches over the next few years.


John O'Dell covers major Orange County corporations and manufacturing for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5831 and at

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