Lockheed Martin's First Atlas V Rocket Stacked Vertically, Capping Period Of Highly Successful Milestones On The Way to First Launch
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, FL, 18-OCT-01 -- Lockheed Martin's Atlas V rocket team has successfully performed the first booster on stand (BOS) operation with the first flight vehicle, designated AV-001. The successful BOS operation involved assembling the rocket's booster stage, Centaur upper stage and connecting segments in the new vertical integration facility (VIF). This caps a period of sustained test and validation activity associated with the vehicle and the ground infrastructure at Launch Complex 41. The Atlas V team also achieved another important milestone recently with the successful completion of the RD180 heavy lift vehicle certification program. The total test program for the RD180, the Russian-built rocket engine that powers both the Atlas III and V rockets, now includes over 27,500 seconds of test firing time, equivalent to the duration of more than 130 nominal Atlas V missions.
The first Atlas V is standing tall on its mobile launch platform in the vertical integration facility at Launch Complex 41, said G. Thomas Marsh, president, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company-Astronautics Operations. At the same time the Atlas V team is proving out the new operational concepts of the system, the RD180 team continues its outstanding successful test program to verify that this engine is performing exactly as we expected.
BOS Sequence of Events
AV-001, the first flight booster, arrived at Cape Canaveral in June preceded by the arrival of the stretched Centaur upper stage in May. Placed in the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center (ASOC) high bay, the vehicles have been used successfully to validate all of the ground systems. The ASOC brings together under one roof activities that had previously been housed in numerous facilities around the Cape.
While the vehicle was undergoing testing in the ASOC, the mobile launch platform (MLP) was nearing completion. The Atlas V launch concept does away with a mobile service tower and instead erects the vehicle on an MLP inside the vertical integration facility (VIF) and then rolls to the pad 12 hours before launch. On Sept. 7, the MLP with control vans moved for the first time from its build-up area to the launch pad. Then Sept. 9, the MLP moved from the pad to the VIF and was placed on pier supports inside the 292-foot tall structure. All systems validations and tests during September were successful in preparation for the early October BOS operation.
The AV-001 booster was first to be erected on the MLP in the VIF on Oct. 11. At a total height of 191.2 feet (58.3 meters) tall, the 400 series AV-001 is equal in height to a 19-story building. Its mass at liftoff will be 734,850 pounds (333,326 kg) or approximately 25 percent greater than the mass of the Atlas IIIA, which is currently the most powerful Atlas variant flying. The booster was followed by erection of the two interstage adapters. The new stretched 38.5 feet tall (11.68 meters) Centaur upper stage went up on Oct. 12, followed by the boat tail on Oct. 13. The boat tail is the segment between the vehicle and the payload. At the conclusion of validation in the VIF next month, a simulated payload fairing and satellite mass will be erected atop AV-001 for fit checks and further validation. The entire process is intended to ensure that the team, the vehicle and the facilities are prepared for the first launch. The actual launch campaign for next May's inaugural Atlas V mission will begin in January.
RD180 Test Program
The ongoing RD180 rocket engine program now includes 150 test firings of 40 RD180 test engines, completed successfully and on schedule. The test program included a test firing in July with a total duration of 394 seconds, exceeding the longest test duration ever performed in the Russian test facility. With the achievement of this milestone, the RD180 is now certified to fly all Atlas III and V missions and configurations. To date, eight RD180 engines have been delivered to Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company in Denver with five additional engines scheduled for delivery later this year.
The RD180 engines are built by NPO Energomash in Khimky, Russia, as part of the RD AMROSS joint venture formed by Pratt & Whitney in the U.S. and NPO Energomash in Russia. The RD180 first flew on the successful inaugural launch of the Atlas III May 24, 2000. It will fly again at the end of the year on another Atlas III that will also carry the stretched version of Centaur, identical to the one used on AV-001. Using this evolutionary approach, Lockheed Martin will have successfully demonstrated the great majority of the Atlas V's components and processes before its first flight.
To find out more about Lockheed Martin's Atlas III and Atlas V launch systems, including the RD-180 engine, 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, launch sites and the latest performance capabilities of Lockheed Martin launch vehicles. You can also find information on International Launch Services' web site at http://www.ilslaunch.com. ILS is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and two Russian companies that markets and provides launch services on the Atlas and on the Russian-built Proton.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, headquartered in Denver, Colo., is one of the major operating units of Lockheed Martin Corporation. Space Systems designs, develops, tests, manufactures and operates a variety of advanced technology systems for military, civil and commercial customers. Chief products include a full-range of space launch systems, ground systems, remote sensing and communications satellites for commercial and government customers, advanced space observatories and interplanetary spacecraft, fleet ballistic missiles and missile defense systems.