Atlas V is a type of rocket used by a company called United Launch Alliance to place satellites into orbit. It is 58.3 metres tall, and 3.81 metres wide. It has flown 12 times, since its first flight on 21 August 2002. Unlike the Space Shuttle, Atlas V is only used once, with a new rocket being built for each flight.
So far, Atlas V has made 12 flights:
- 21 August 2002, with the Hot Bird 6 satellite.
- 13 May 2003, with the HellasSat 2 satellite.
- 17 July 2003, with the Rainbow 1 satellite.
- 17 December 2004, with the AMC 16 satellite.
- 11 March 2005, with the Inmarsat 4-F1 satellite.
- 12 August 2005, with the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
- 19 January 2006, with the New Horizons spacecraft.
- 20 April 2006, with the Astra 1KR satellite.
- 8 March 2007, with STP-1.
- 15 June 2007, with a secret spacecraft for the American National Reconnaissance Office
- 11 October 2007, with the WGS-1 satellite.
- 10 December 2007, with a secret spacecraft for the American National Reconnaissance Office
There are many types of Atlas V, which can be changed for different spacecraft. The type of rocket is denoted by three numbers following the rocket's name. The first of these is either a four or a five, and is the width of the part of the rocket known as the fairing, where the satellite is stored. The second can be anything between zero and five, and gives the number of booster rockets used to increase the load the rocket can carry. The third is either a one or a two, and denotes the number of engines on the upper stage. For example, the Atlas V 401 has a four metre fairing, no booster rockets, and one engine on the upper stage, an Atlas V 552 has a five metre fairing, five boosters, and two engines on the upper stage.