Lockheed Martin Builds First Atlas V Centuar
DENVER, CO, 29-NOV-00 -- Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company has built the tank for the first new Centaur upper stage that will fly atop the company's Atlas V next-generation rockets. Built at Lockheed Martin's facilities in San Diego, Calif., the Centaur tank arrived at the company's facilities located near Denver, Colo., where final assembly and installation of engines, avionics, harnessing and other components will be completed. Substantial progress also has been made on the first Atlas V rocket booster, designated AV-001. The booster's liquid oxygen tank and RP-1 fuel tank have been built at the company's facilities near Denver and are undergoing tests and inspection. The RD-180 rocket engine will be attached to the booster and final assembly completed by April of next year, when AV-001 will be shipped to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
Today marks another milestone for the Atlas V launch system, said G. Thomas Marsh, president of Lockheed Martin Space Systems - Astronautics Operations. The new systems are nearing completion and they'll be powered by the best propulsion systems in the world that already have been demonstrated in flight, added Marsh. The Atlas V Centaur will fly with an RL10A-4-2 engine, a minor change from the flight-proven RL10A-4-1B engine, and the Atlas V booster will use the flight-proven Russian RD-180 engine.
The first Atlas V, with its booster and Centaur upper stage, will be completed and shipped to Cape Canaveral in April where it will spend one year in pathfinder activities being readied for launch in early 2002. The company is building a new launch site, Launch Complex 41, at Cape Canaveral to support Atlas V missions. The state-of-the-art launch infrastructure will use a clean pad approach. The rocket with its satellite will be stacked off-line in a Vertical Integration Facility, then rolled out on a Mobile Launch Platform to the pad for launch just hours later. Lockheed Martin developed its new, 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 longer Atlas V Centaur tank design is based on the company's successful Centaur cryogenic upper stage, flight-proven through 149 missions over a period of more than 39 years of launching satellites into space. With its increased length, at 41.6 feet (12.7 meters), the new Common Centaur will provide greater performance capability to lift heavier satellites and multiple-satellite constellations. More fuel allows for longer duration engine burns and increased performance to boost satellites to a variety of orbits to meet satellite customer needs. The identical tank design, hence the name Common Centaur, will be used on the Atlas IIIB as well as flying atop the 400, 500 and HLV (triple body) series of Atlas V rockets.
With one of the industry's longest running mission success strings, Atlas/Centaur rockets have flown a total of 53 consecutive successful Atlas missions - a string that began in 1993. And since 1990, five new versions of Atlas - each more powerful than the other- have flown successfully in their inaugural flights.
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.