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The Atlas V rocket is an expendable launch vehicle formerly built by Lockheed Martin and now built by the Lockheed Martin-Boeing joint venture United Launch Alliance. Aerojet develops and manufactures the Atlas V boosters. The rocket, built in Decatur, Alabama, consists of a first stage powered by kerosene and liquid oxygen, which uses a Russian-made RD-180 engine, and a liquid hydrogen–liquid oxygen powered Centaur upper stage. Some configurations also use strap-on booster rockets. Together these components are referred to as the Atlas V launch vehicle.

In its 12 launches, from its maiden launch in August 2002 to March 2008, the Atlas V has had a near-perfect success rate. On one flight, NRO L-30 on June 15, 2007, an upper-stage anomaly occurred when the engine in the vehicle's Centaur upper stage shut down early, leaving the payload—a pair of ocean surveillance satellites—in a lower than intended orbit.[1] However, the customer, the National Reconnaissance Office, categorized the mission as a success.[2][3] Atlas V has made four successful flights since the anomaly.

ReferencesEdit

  1. "NRO Shortfall May Delay Upcoming ULA Missions". Aviation Week. http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=defense&id=news/NRO062207.xml. 
  2. "NRO satellite successfully launched aboard Atlas V". NRO Press Release. http://www.nro.gov/PressReleases/prs_rel91.html. 
  3. "NROL-30 launch update". NRO Press Release. http://www.nro.gov/PressReleases/prs_rel91a.html.