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.


  1. "NRO Shortfall May Delay Upcoming ULA Missions". Aviation Week. 
  2. "NRO satellite successfully launched aboard Atlas V". NRO Press Release. 
  3. "NROL-30 launch update". NRO Press Release.