First Atlas V Flight Engine Arrives at Lockheed Martin
DENVER, CO, 30-NOV-00 -- Four more Russian-built RD-180 rocket engines have arrived at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company's facility near Denver, Colo., including the engine that will power the maiden flight of the company's new Atlas V rocket. The other three engines are being readied for assembly on Atlas III rocket boosters. All four RD-180 engines arrived in good condition and are being inspected. These are world-class propulsion systems and we're looking forward to installing engine 9T on the first Atlas V this coming January, said John C. Karas, vice president of Lockheed Martin's EELV/Atlas V program. We are on schedule to ship the first Atlas V to Cape Canaveral next April to begin pathfinder operations at Launch Complex 41. This is the cornerstone of our future launch capability, added Karas.
Engine number 9T will be installed on the company's first Atlas V rocket, designated AV-001, in January 2001. The Atlas V then will be transported to Cape Canaveral, Fla., in April 2001 where it will be prepared for launch in early 2002.
The RD-180 engine system provides the thrust for the new, more reliable, more powerful, more cost effective Atlas III and Atlas V rocket boosters built by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company's Astronautics Operations near Denver. In 1996, Lockheed Martin awarded a contract to engine maker RD AMROSS valued at just over $1 billion for a total of 101 RD-180 engines, eight of which have now been delivered.
Lockheed Martin developed the more powerful Atlas V launch vehicles to meet the needs of the U.S. Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program and the growing needs of International Launch Services (ILS) for its commercial and government satellite customers worldwide. ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services and Lockheed Khrunichev Energia International, which markets the Atlas and the Russian-built Proton rockets.
The RD-180 system has the unique ability to throttle up and down during flight. It is the only engine with a throttle capability that is used aboard an expendable U.S. rocket and it throttles without appreciable loss of performance. During its successful maiden flight on May 24, 2000, the Atlas III with the RD-180 lifted off the launch pad using only 74 percent of the maximum
860,200 pounds of thrust it can provide at sea level. During the first three minutes of that flight, the RD-180 was throttled from 74 percent up to 92 percent, down to 65 percent and back up to 87 percent. The ability to ease the throttle up and down provides a smoother, less stressful ride for the rocket and its satellite payload and allows for more efficient use of propellants. This engine system is one of the key ingredients to Lockheed Martin's ability to produce more powerful, more reliable and less costly launch vehicles, thus positioning the company as the industry's premier provider of launch services to satellite customers.
The Atlas V RD-180 engine system has been fully flight certified through an extensive test program conducted by NPO Energomash in Khimky, Russia, in accordance with Lockheed Martin requirements. This ensures that the engine design now has met flight requirements for all Atlas V missions, including the Atlas 300, 400 and 500 series. Certification of the RD-180 engine design for Atlas V Heavy Lift Vehicle (HLV) missions is expected to be completed in 2001.
This latest delivery represents the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth RD-180 engines delivered to Lockheed Martin by RD AMROSS, which produces the engines exclusively for Lockheed Martin's Atlas III and Atlas V launch vehicles. Through the RD AMROSS joint venture established by Pratt & Whitney, a division of United Technologies, and NPO Energomash of Khimky, Russia, the RD-180 engines were built, tested and inspected at NPO Energomash's facilities in Khimky prior to shipment to the United States. The engines arrived at Astronautics Operations' Launch Vehicle Final Assembly Building near Denver, Colo., Nov. 23. Each engine weighs approximately 12,000 pounds. Before shipment from Khimky, each engine is test fired for over 200 seconds at a minimum of five different thrust levels to ensure the engines are ready. In addition, the engines are given commands that represent conditions that will be seen in flight.
To find out more about Lockheed Martin's Atlas III and Atlas V launch systems, tap into our web site at http://www.ast.lmco.com. The web site features updates, images and videos of Atlas development and production milestones, Lockheed Martin's East and West Coast launch sites, and the latest performance capabilities of Lockheed Martin launch vehicles. You can also find information about Atlas and Proton launch systems at International Launch Services' web site at http://www.ilslaunch.com.
Astronautics is an operating unit of Lockheed Martin's Space Systems Company headquartered in Denver, Colo. Astronautics designs, develops, tests and manufactures a variety of advanced technology systems for space and defense. Chief products include interplanetary spacecraft and other space systems, space launch systems and ground systems.