McDonnell Douglas Space Systems Co. said Monday it has won a contract--valued at about $50 million--to launch a communications satellite for Contel Corp. aboard its Delta rocket.
It is the ninth commercial launch contract for McDonnell Douglas, which last month became the first U.S. company to launch a privately owned rocket into space.
McDonnell Douglas said the launch for Contel will take place in the first quarter of 1991 from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
Contel, an Atlanta-based telecommunications company, is using the Delta to launch a satellite that will provide voice and teleconferencing services to its customers throughout the United States.
After a 2 1/2-year shutdown, McDonnell Douglas reopened its Delta production line in January, 1987, after winning an Air Force order valued at nearly $1 billion to build 20 of the rockets for launching military satellites. The aerospace firm has also been marketing the Delta to commercial customers.
The commercial launch market is an outgrowth of the 1986 Challenger space shuttle disaster that led President Reagan to retire the shuttle from commercial launches and encourage the development of a private launch vehicle industry.
McDonnell Douglas said it has the capability of launching 12 Deltas a year for both the Air Force and commercial customers. The company said it anticipates that three to five of those yearly launches will be for commercial customers.