Hugh Pickens writes writes "Dan Elliott reports that a piece of cloth inadvertently left in the line during the manufacturing process may be the reason for the botched delivery to orbit of a military communications satellite that hasn't reached its planned orbit since it was launched in August. The Air Force Space Command and the contractor, Lockheed Martin, have devised a work-around plan using the remaining propulsion systems—reaction engine assemblies and electric Hall Current Thrusters drawing off of onboard fuel—to slowly raise the perigee of the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite until it reaches its intended orbit 22,300 miles over the Earth in October but the GAO says that the $12.9 billion satellite system incurred at least $250 million in extra costs and a two-year delay because of quality problems due to poor workmanship, undocumented and untested manufacturing processes, poor control of those processes and materials and failure to prevent contamination, poor part design, design complexity, and an inattention to manufacturing risks. John Pike of Globalsecurity.org, which monitors defense issues, says the two-year delay is a bigger problem than the extra expense. "You've got a lot of other things depending on the launch," says Pike including ground-based weapons. The Air Force says the contractor's contract for its part of the project is valued at $7.8 billion and that Lockheed Martin's "remaining award fee" will be reduced by $15 million because of the fuel line problem. The Air Force didn't responded to requests for clarification, and Lockheed Martin declined to comment on the payment issue."