Atlas V

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Atlas V
Atlas V(401) launches with LRO and LCROSS cropped.jpg
Launch of an Atlas V 401 carrying the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and LCROSS space probes on June 18, 2009
FunctionEELV/medium-heavy launch vehicle
ManufacturerUnited Launch Alliance
Country of originUnited States
Cost per launchUS$110 million in 2016
Height58.3 m (191 ft)
Diameter3.81 m (12.5 ft)
Mass590,000 kg (1,300,000 lb)
Payload to LEO8,250–20,520 kg (18,190–45,240 lb)
Payload to GTO4,750–8,900 kg (10,470–19,620 lb)
Associated rockets
FamilyAtlas (rocket family)
Launch history
Launch sitesCape Canaveral SLC-41
Vandenberg SLC-3E
Total launches79
(401: 38, 411: 5, 421: 7, 431: 3)
(501: 6, 521: 2, 531: 3, 541: 6, 551: 9)
(401: 37, 411: 5, 421: 7, 431: 3)
(501: 6, 521: 2, 531: 3, 541: 6, 551: 9)
Partial failures1 (401 – low orbit, customer declared success)[1]
First flight21 August 2002 (Hot Bird 6)
Last flight17 October 2018 (AEHF-4)
Notable payloads
Boosters – AJ-60A[2]
No. boosters0 to 5
Length17.0 m (669 in)[2]
Diameter1.6 m (62 in)[2]
Gross mass46,697 kg (102,949 lb)
Propellant mass42,630 kg (93,980 lb) [3]
Thrust1,688.4 kN (379,600 lbf)
Specific impulse279.3 s (2.739 km/s)
Burn time94 seconds
First stage – Atlas CCB
Length32.46 m (106.5 ft)
Diameter3.81 m (12.5 ft)
Empty mass21,054 kg (46,416 lb)
Propellant mass284,089 kg (626,309 lb)
Engines1 RD-180
Thrust3,827 kN (860,000 lbf) (SL)
4,152 kN (933,000 lbf) (vac)
Specific impulse311.3 s (3.053 km/s) (SL)
337.8 s (3.313 km/s) (vac)
Burn time253 seconds
FuelRP-1 / LOX
Second stage – Centaur
Length12.68 m (41.6 ft)
Diameter3.05 m (10.0 ft)
Empty mass2,316 kg (5,106 lb)
Propellant mass20,830 kg (45,920 lb)
Engines1 RL10A or 1 RL10C
Thrust99.2 kN (22,300 lbf) (RL10A)
Specific impulse450.5 s (4.418 km/s) (RL10A-4-2)
Burn time842 seconds (RL10A-4-2)
FuelLH2 / LOX

Atlas V is an orbital launch vehicle used by the United Launch Alliance (made of two companies, Boeing and Lockheed Martin) to place satellites into orbit. It is a rocket 58.3 metres (191 feet) tall, and 3.81 metres (12.5 feet) wide. It has flown 79 times, since its first flight on August 21, 2002. It was developed from the Atlas (missile). Unlike the Space Shuttle, Atlas V is only used once, with a new rocket being built for each flight.

The different types of Atlas V rockets.

The rocket is made of the first stage, a Common Core Booster with an RD-180 engine from Russia. Every Atlas V has this as the first stage. The second stage is called Centaur, and has one/two RL-10 engines from Aerojet Rocketdyne. On top is a 4–5-metre (13–16-foot) wide fairing covering the spacecraft during launch.

Flights[change | change source]

As of the end of 2018, the Atlas V has made 79 flights. The most famous ones carried the New Horizons, Mars Science Laboratory (which had the Curiosity rover in it), Juno, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter/LCROSS, the Boeing X-37B, the Mars 2020 mission which carried the Perseverance rover and the Mars Helicopter Ingenuity, and in the future, the launch vehicle for Boeing's CST-100 Starliner used for crewed flights to the International Space Station.

Variants[change | change source]

The Atlas V has a special way of naming the different kinds. The Atlas V nomenclature for numbering the variants goes like this: The first number says how wide the fairing is. A 400 series Atlas V has a 4-meter wide fairing. A 500 series Atlas V has a 5-meter wide fairing. An Atlas V N22 have no fairing since it will be the launch configuration for the Boeing's CST-100 Starliner. second number says how many strap-on solid rocket boosters the rocket has. An Atlas V 501 has no strap-on boosters, an Atlas V 441 has 4 strap-on boosters, while the Atlas V N22 has two strap-on boosters, which will be the Boeing Starliner launch configuration. The last number says how many engines the Centaur second stage has. All of the Atlas V rockets flown have had only 1 engine on the Centaur, but in the future other Atlas V rockets will have 2 engines on the Centaur upper stage, such as the Atlas V N22 that I frequently mentioned in this article. There is also the HLV which has two of the first stage (Common Core Booster) strapped on like strap-on boosters, but it has never flown.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Gunter's Space Page – Atlas V (401). Retrieved on 2011-11-19. Archived 1 May 2013 at WebCite
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Atlas V Solid Rocket Motor". Aerojet Rocketdyne. Archived from the original on March 14, 2017. Retrieved June 2, 2015.
  3. "Space Launch Report: Atlas 5 Data Sheet". Space Launch Report. October 15, 2017.