Spaceflight Now: Atlas launch report


July 14, 2000 -- Read about the countdown and launch of the EchoStar 6 direct-to-home TV broadcasting satellite aboard a Lockheed Martin Atlas 2AS rocket. Reload this page for the very latest on the mission.

FRIDAY, JULY 14, 2000

Lockheed Martin's commercial Atlas rocket fleet kept its long-running success streak unblemished this morning by lofting into space the most powerful direct broadcasting satellite. Read our complete launch story.

Also check out a QuickTime movie of the launch.

0555 GMT (1:55 a.m. EDT)

Lockheed Martin has announced data on the orbit achieved during the launch, and the Atlas rocket performed better than expected. The extra boost will save EchoStar's onboard fuel supply, extending the craft's life by at least a year.

The rocket delivered EchoStar 6 into a geosynchronous transfer orbit around Earth with an apogee of 38,193.835 km, significantly higher than minimum required of 32,604.033 km, and perigee of 166.676 km, slightly better than the required 166.374 km.

0551 GMT (1:51 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 30 minutes. SPACECRAFT SEPARATION! The EchoStar 6 direct-to-home TV broadcasting satellite has been released into space following a smooth launch today by the Lockheed Martin Atlas 2AS rocket. This marks the 52nd successful launch by an Atlas rocket dating back to 1993.

Ground controllers expect to establish contact with EchoStar 6 in about 15 minutes, which will confirm the craft's health following launch. In about three hours, solar array deployment is expected.

0550 GMT (1:50 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 29 minutes. Spinup of the Centaur upper stage has started in advance of EchoStar 6 deployment in less than a minute.

0548 GMT (1:48 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 27 minutes. The Centaur is beginning its reorientation maneuver to prepare for releasing the payload.

0547 GMT (1:47 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 26 minutes, 25 seconds. MECO 2. Centaur has completed its second firing, which appears to have been successful. Good engine shutdown signatures were seen in data from the rocket. Coming up on deployment of EchoStar 6 at T+plus 28 minutes, 55 seconds.

0545 GMT (1:45 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 24 minutes, 45 seconds. Centaur is up and burning again. The two RL-10 engines have reignited for a 97-second firing to accelerate EchoStar 6 into its required orbit around Earth.

0544 GMT (1:44 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 23 minutes. Two minutes until Centaur restart. Small thrusters on the stage are firing to settle the propellant inside the vehicle's tanks to prepare for engine ignition.

0540 GMT (1:40 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 19 minutes. Lockheed Martin reports activities still going right according to plan. The Atlas/Centaur rocket has performed perfectly so far. The vehicle continues its coast period as it appraches the equator. Now six minutes away from the Centaur's second burn and less than 10 minutes from spacecraft separation.

0537 GMT (1:37 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 16 minutes. Systems aboard the Centaur stage are reported healthy as the quiet coast period continues. Restart of the stage's two RL-10 engines is upcoming in just under 9 minutes.

0533 GMT (1:33 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 12 minutes. Data indicates the Lockheed Martin Atlas/Centaur rocket has performed very well so far in this morning's launch. The parking orbit achieved is basically perfect compared to the pre-launch predicted altitude. The high point was expected to be 437 km, actual is 436.776 km; the low point was predicted to be 155.571 km and the actual is 155.443 km; and inclination is perfect to four decimal points at 28.2933 degrees.

0532 GMT (1:32 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 11 minutes. The flight termination system has been safed. The Centaur upper stage and attached EchoStar 6 spacecraft are now in the midst of a 15-minute long coast period. The Centaur will be reignited at T+plus 24 minutes, 42 seconds.

0531 GMT (1:31 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 10 minutes. MECO 1. The Centaur main engines have cut off as planned following the first of two planned firings to deliver the EchoStar 6 satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit. So far all has gone as planned with no problems reported.

0530 GMT (1:30 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 9 minutes. Just under a minute left in the first of two firing for Centaur this morning to loft EchoStar 6.

0529 GMT (1:29 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 8 minutes. The two RL-10 upper stage engine still burning to achieve a low-altitude parking orbit around Earth.

0528 GMT (1:28 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 7 minutes. The Antigua downrange tracking station has acquired signal from the rocket. The station is relaying data in realtime to Cape Canaveral. The Centaur engines continue to fire normally.

0527 GMT (1:27 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 6 minutes, 15 seconds. The Centaur first burn going as planned with vehicle right on track. Altitude is 109 miles, downrange distance 450 miles, velocity is 9,800 mph.

0526 GMT (1:26 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 5 minutes, 20 seconds. Separation of the Atlas stage confirmed and ignition of Centaur's two engines has occurred. Good thrust reported for the Centaur's RL-10 powerplants.

0526 GMT (1:26 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 5 minutes. The sustainer engine on Atlas has shut down as planned. Coming up on stage separation.

0524 GMT (1:24 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 3 minutes, 30 seconds. The payload fairing has separated. It is no longer needed to protect EchoStar 6 during the launch. The Atlas rocket continues heading right down the projected track.

0524 GMT (1:24 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 3 minutes. The booster engines have shut down and the booster package -- the bottom section of the rocket -- has been jettisoned. The sustainer engine of the Atlas vehicle continues to fire.

0523 GMT (1:23 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 2 minutes. Having burned all their propellant, the air-lit solid rocket boosters have separated from the Atlas rocket.

0522 GMT (1:22 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 90 seconds. The two spent ground-started solid rocket boosters have jettisoned to fall into the Atlantic Ocean.

0522 GMT (1:22 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 63 seconds. The ground-lit solid rocket boosters have burned out and the air-lit motors have ignited.

0521 GMT (1:21 a.m. EDT)

T+plus 30 seconds. Pitch and roll programs underway. The Atlas engines and solid rocket boosters performing normally.

0521 GMT (1:21 a.m. EDT)

LIFTOFF! Liftoff of the Lockheed Martin Atlas 2AS rocket with the EchoStar 6 television broadcasting satellite. And the vehicle has cleared the tower.

0520 GMT (1:20 a.m. EDT)

T-minus 31 seconds. Launch Sequence Start. The Atlas 2AS rocket's onboard computer is now controlling the remainder of the countdown.

In the next few seconds the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen vent valves will be locked for flight and the flight data recorders will be readied. The engine ignition sequence will begin at T-minus 2.4 seconds.

0520 GMT (1:20 a.m. EDT)

T-minus 1 minute. Engines are being verified ready for flight and final status checks are upcoming.

In the past minute, the inertial navigation unit was launch enabled, liquid hydrogen tanking was secured, fuel tank pressures reported stable, the solid rocket boosters were armed and the ignition enable switch was closed.

0519 GMT (1:19 a.m. EDT)

T-minus 2 minutes. Pressurization of the Atlas/Centaur vehicle has started. Tanks now being brought to proper pressure levels for flight. Also, the rocket's engine have been prepared for launch.

Shortly, the rocket's inadventant separation destruct safety system will be armed, the Centaur upper stage will go to internal power and the flight termination system will be armed.

0518 GMT (1:18 a.m. EDT)

T-minus 3 minutes. The water system is being readied for activation at launch pad 36B. Water will flood the pad to suppress the sound produced at liftoff and protect the ground support systems.

0517 GMT (1:17 a.m. EDT)

T-minus 4 minutes. The Atlas booster stage and Flight Termination System are switching to internal power.

0516 GMT (1:16 a.m. EDT)

T-minus 5 minutes and counting. The countdown has resumed for launch of the Lockheed Martin Atlas/Centaur-161 rocket with the EchoStar 6 communications satellite this morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. There are no problems standing in the way of liftoff at 1:21 a.m. EDT.

0515 GMT (1:15 a.m. EDT)

After a very smooth countdown this morning, clocks will pick up in one minute for liftoff at 1:21 a.m. EDT.

0513 GMT (1:13 a.m. EDT)

The Lockheed Martin final readiness poll of the entire launch team was just performed by Launch Conductor Ed Christiansen in the Complex 36 Blockhouse with all parties reporting a "go" for liftoff. Lockheed Martin Launch Director Adrian Laffitte then gave his approval for liftoff from the Mission Directors Center in the Cape Canaveral Industrial Area. Standing by the resume the countdown in two minutes for a launch at 1:21 a.m. EDT.

0511 GMT (1:11 a.m. EDT)

Now 10 minutes away from launch. All systems remain ready for launch. The weather and Range are reported go. There are no technical problems being worked either.

0508 GMT (1:08 a.m. EDT)

Preparations for this launch began on May 23 when the rocket arrived at Cape Canaveral from the Lockheed Martin factory in Denver. The Atlas booster stage was erected on pad 36B on June 7, followed by the Centaur upper stage the next day. The work was completed after the pad was reconfigured from its Atlas 3 rocket status to the shorter Atlas 2 vehicle launching this morning. A simulated flight test was conducted on June 20, the four strap-on solid rocket motors were added on June 24 and a countdown dress rehearsal in which the vehicle was fueled occurred on June 26.

The EchoStar 6 satellite was encapsulated inside the rocket's nose cone payload fairing in the AstroTech processing facility on June 29. Transportation to the launch pad and attachment to the rocket took place on July 6.

0504 GMT (1:04 a.m. EDT)

The loading of the Atlas booster and Centaur upper stage with super-cold cryogenic propellant is complete. Given the cold nature of the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, however, the cryogenics naturally boil away during the countdown. As a result, the tanks will be topped off until just minutes prior to liftoff. RP-1 fuel, a highly refined kerosene, was loaded aboard the Atlas stage prior to today's countdown.

0501 GMT (1:01 a.m. EDT)

T-minus 5 minutes and holding. The countdown has entered the planned hold. This pause is slated to last 15 minutes, giving the launch team time to catch up on any work that could be running behind schedule.

Also, the Complex 36 Blockhouse escape tunnel doors are being sealed for launch.

0456 GMT (12:56 a.m. EDT)

T-minus 10 minutes and counting. Coming up on the planned 15-minute long built-in hold at T-minus 5 minutes. Launch remains scheduled for 1:21 a.m. EDT (0521 GMT) this morning.

0448 GMT (12:48 a.m. EDT)

Air Force Launch Weather Officer Jim Sardonia just gave what should be his final update for this morning's countdown to managers. The weather reconnaissance aircraft is being sent to examine one area of clouds moving toward Cape Canaveral to ensure the deck does not violate the thickness limit of 4,500 feet. The clouds are not expected to be a problem, but the aircraft will confirm that. Otherwise, all weather rules are currently "green" and go for launch.

0443 GMT (12:43 a.m. EDT)

The pogo suppression system at pad 36B has been readied. The system will be used to dampen the "bounce" of the rocket during engine ignition. Also the C-band beacon is reported at "go". The beacon will be used to track the rocket during flight. And the self test of the flight termination system has been completed.

0435 GMT (12:35 a.m. EDT)

An inhibited self test of the rocket's flight termination system, which would be used to destroy the vehicle in the event of a malfunction during launch, is starting. Also, topping of the Atlas liquid oxygen tank to flight level has begun. Launch still set to occur at 1:21 a.m. EDT.

0421 GMT (12:21 a.m. EDT)

T-minus 45 minutes and counting. Now 60 minutes away from this morning's planned launch of a Lockheed Martin Atlas 2AS rocket with the EchoStar 6 direct-to-home TV broadcasting satellite. Countdown clocks will continue to T-minus 5 minutes where a 15-minute planned hold will occur.

The Atlas liquid oxygen tank has been filled to 98 percent and topping to flight level will start shortly. The Centaur liquid oxygen tank is now at flight level. Liquid hydrogen loading has filled 40 percent of the Centaur tank.

0412 GMT (12:12 a.m. EDT)

The technician troubleshooting the gaseous nitrogen pressure problem at Complex 36 has completed his work and departed the restricted area around the pad. That allows the launch team to begin loading liquid hydrogen into the Centaur upper stage.

0410 GMT (12:10 a.m. EDT)

The liquid hydrogen chilldown is now complete. However, loading of the super-cold fuel into the rocket's Centaur upper stage is being delayed while a worker is deployed at Complex 36 to examine a gaseous nitrogen pressurization problem.

At launch pad 36B the Centaur upper stage liquid oxygen tank is nearly completely full as topping to flight level continues and the Atlas booster stage liquid oxygen tank is 70 percent full.

0404 GMT (12:04 a.m. EDT)

The liquid oxygen tank inside the Atlas booster stage is now at 20 percent. The rocket's shiny exterior is now turning a frosty white as a thin layer of ice forms from the super-cold liquid oxygen.

Meanwhile, Centaur liquid oxygen topping to flight level has started. As the countdown proceeds, the tank will be replenished to replace the cryogenic liquid oxygen that naturally boils away.

Also, the final alignment of the Atlas rocket's inertial navigation guidance computer has been completed, and the flight control system final preps are now beginning.

0356 GMT (11:56 p.m. EDT)

The Anomaly Team has decided that a technician from subcontractor Air Liquide will need to go to Complex 36 to inspect a pressure regulator to ensure it is working properly. The regulator is part of the facility's gaseous nitrogen system. The launch team has noted a pressure decay in the system over the past short while.

To ensure safety, loading of liquid hydrogen fuel into the rocket will be delayed until after the worker clears the pad area.

Liftoff is still targeted for 1:21 a.m. EDT, the opening of a 119-minute launch window tonight that extends to 3:20 a.m. EDT.

0352 GMT (11:52 p.m. EDT)

The Centaur liquid oxygen tank has reached 95 percent full level where it is being maintained. Topping to 100 percent will be completed later. And now loading of liquid oxygen into the Atlas booster stage is beginning.

Fueling operations are going well tonight at Cape Canaveral, even running a bit ahead of schedule. Launch remains scheduled for 1:21 a.m. EDT (0521 GMT).

0348 GMT (11:48 p.m. EDT)

The chilldown conditioning of liquid hydrogen propellant lines at pad 36B is starting. Loading of liquid oxygen into the Centaur upper stage continues with the tank 80 percent full.

Meanwhile, the Anomaly Team has been convened to examine a pressure decay in a system at Complex 36.

0342 GMT (11:42 p.m. EDT)

The Centaur liquid oxygen tank has been filled above 20 percent. The super-cold liquid oxygen will be consumed along with liquid hydrogen by the stage's twin RL-10 engines built by Pratt & Whitney. Liquid hydrogen will be loaded aboard the stage in about a half-hour.

0334 GMT (11:34 p.m. EDT)

Chilldown condition of the liquid oxygen transfer lines at pad 36B has been completed and the launch team is now beginning to fill the Centaur upper stage with its its supply of liquid oxygen for launch tonight at 1:21 a.m. EDT.

The latest steering program is being loaded into the rocket's guidance computer based upon the upper level wind conditions. Also, checks of the wind damper arm and launcher pyrovent arm connecting the Atlas 2AS rocket with the launch tower has been completed.

0324 GMT (11:24 p.m. EDT)

The "chilldown" procedure has started to thermally condition the liquid oxygen propellants lines at pad 36B in advance of loading the Centaur upper stage. Chilldown is a process in which a small amount of the super-cold liquid oxygen is released from the pad's storage tank into the feed lines that lead to the rocket.

Meanwhile, gaseous helium chilldown of the Centaur engines and pneumatic bottle charge for the stage have started.

0321 GMT (11:21 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 105 minutes and counting. The countdown has been restarted after a planned half-hour built-in hold. Launch remains scheduled for 1:21 a.m. EDT (0521 GMT).

0316 GMT (11:16 p.m. EDT)

Launch Conductor Ed Christiansen has just polled the launch team for a readiness to begin fueling the Atlas rocket shortly. All parties were "go".

Meanwhile, the mobile service tower has been retracted and secured for launch. Technicians are now departing the complex.

0251 GMT (10:51 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 105 minutes and holding. Clocks have entered a planned 30-minute hold period for the countdown this evening at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for launch of the Lockheed Martin Atlas 2AS rocket. Launch remains scheduled for 1:21 a.m. EDT (0521 GMT).

There are no problems being worked and weather conditions remain generally favorable.

0236 GMT (10:36 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 120 minutes and counting. The countdown is continuing smoothly at Cape Canaveral for launch of the Lockheed Martin Atlas 2AS rocket at 1:21 a.m. EDT. Countdown clocks are slated to enter a planned hold at T-minus 105 minutes for a half-hour.

At launch pad 36B, the mobile service tower is rolling back and final preps for the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen systems have been completed. Also, hazardous gas detection monitoring has started and the Range is conducting a test of the C-band beacon system, which is used to track the rocket during flight.

0221 GMT (10:21 p.m. EDT)

Retraction of the mobile service tower from around the Atlas 2AS rocket is starting at Cape Canaveral's launch pad 36B. The tower will be fully retracted to the "maintenance area" for launch. Liftoff remains on schedule for 1:21 a.m. EDT (0521 GMT).

The launch team reported preps for the Atlas and Centaur propulsion systems are complete, as were the hydraulic preps for Atlas. Also the rocket's Inertial Navigation Unit guidance computer has completed its navigation test and final alignment for launch has started.

Also, the Air Force reports there are no collision avoidance periods, or COLAs, that would prohibit liftoff during any portion of the launch window tonight.

0206 GMT (10:06 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 150 minutes and counting. Man stations for Integrated Launch Operations. The entire launch team is now reporting on station at Cape Canaveral's Complex 36 for the liftoff of an Atlas 2AS rocket at 1:21 a.m. EDT (0521 GMT).

Countdown clocks will pause twice over the next three hours and 15 minutes in advance of launch. Built-in holds are planned at T-minus 105 for 30 minutes and at T-minus 5 minutes for 15 minutes.

At launch pad 36B, access platforms and equipment inside the mobile service tower have been stowed, and technicians are preparing to retracted the structure from around the rocket in about 15 minutes.

Over the past hour or so, the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen system checkouts were completed and now the final system preps have started. The purges to the Centaur upper stage began and were configured on low-flow. Also the Blockhouse clocks were switched from local time to sequencer countdown and verified to be displaying the correct T-minus time. Meanwhile, Range Safety conducted a holdfire test to ensure it could stop the launch moments before liftoff if necessary.

The latest weather forecast continues to show a 70 percent chance of acceptable conditions today. Air Force Launch Weather Officer Jim Sardonia just briefed management and reported that an area of mid-level clouds drifting toward Cape Canaveral from the north could potentially violate the thick cloud rule of greater than 4,500 feet thickness. A weather reconnaissance aircraft will be dispatched during the countdown to verify if the clouds are within allowable limits for launch. Also to be watched would be anvil clouds -- the tops of thunderstorms -- moving near the launch pad. Thunderstorms are possible over the Atlantic Ocean to the east of the Cape and winds are such that anvil clouds could blow inland.

The launch time forecast is calling for a few clouds at 3,000 feet, scattered clouds at 12,000 and 25,000 feet, southwesterly winds at 10 gusting to 16 knots and isolated rainshowers off the coast.

Meanwhile, upper level wind conditions are favorable this evening. Weather balloons released over the last few hours have found very light winds. The maximum winds are 20 knots at 4,000 feet.

0030 GMT (8:30 p.m. EDT)

The countdown clock is ticking along on schedule this evening at Cape Canaveral as Lockheed Martin prepares to launch an Atlas 2AS rocket with the EchoStar 6 TV satellite in just under five hours from now. The launch team started the countdown at 4:31 p.m. EDT at T-minus 485 minutes. With 45 minutes of built-in hold time planned, liftoff remains set to occur at 1:21 a.m. EDT (0521 GMT).

Over the past couple of hours, the launch team at Complex 36 have worked through propulsion launch preps for the Atlas and Centaur stages, powered up the rocket's flight control system, conducted Atlas hydraulic system and Atlas and Centaur pneumatic preps. A navigation test of the rocket's Inertial Navigation Unit and Centaur main engine ignitor checks were started.

Look ahead, the forthcoming milestone will be retraction of the mobile service tower from around the rocket at pad 36B, which is slated to begin at 10:21 p.m. EDT (0221 GMT).

1931 GMT (3:31 p.m. EDT)

All systems are reported "go" for tonight's scheduled launch of a Lockheed Martin Atlas 2AS rocket. The launch team is ready to start the countdown in exactly one hour in advance of the planned 1:21 a.m. EDT (0521 GMT) liftoff from pad 36B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Officials told reporters at a press conference earlier this afternoon that preparations for this $250 million launch, which aims to deliver EchoStar's sixth direct-to-home TV broadcasting satellite into orbit, has gone smoothly since the rocket arrived in Florida on May 23 from the factory.

"This has been a nominal flow," said Adrian Laffitte, the director of Atlas launch operations at the Cape.

Air Force meteorologists still predict a 70 percent chance weather conditions will allow the Atlas to launch tonight during the available 119-minute window, though conditions are expected to gradually improve as the window goes on. The concerns will be cumulus clouds and thick layered clouds, which could cause triggered lightning as the rocket ascends into the sky. Rainshowers also will be watched.

Launch Weather Officer Jim Sardonia gave this forecast today:

"Warm moist southwest to west wind in the lower atmosphere accompanied an upper level disturbance will produce unstable conditions with a high probability of showers and thunderstorms forming along the east-coast sea breeze this afternoon with the threat lasting into the evening. Lightning within 5 nautical miles of SLC 36 is likely this afternoon. Conditions will improve by midnight, however residual moisture may produce a threat of lingering anvil and layered clouds during early stages of the launch window. An unusual frontal system is expected to move into central Florida on Friday further destabilizing weather conditions Friday and Saturday afternoon/evenings. The main concerns on launch day include the chance of anvil, debris, and layered clouds."

The launch time forecast is calling for clouds scattered at 2,000 and 10,000 feet and broken clouds at 25,000, visibility of 5 miles, southwesterly winds 10 to 18 knots, temperature of 77 to 79 degrees F, relative humidity of 90 percent and occasional light showers.

0401 GMT (12:01 a.m. EDT)

A Lockheed Martin Atlas 2AS rocket is set to carry out a satellite delivery mission for EchoStar in the early hours of Friday morning from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Liftoff is scheduled for 1:21 a.m. EDT (0521 GMT), the opening of 119-minute window extending to 3:20 a.m. EDT (0720 GMT).

The weather forecast indicates a 70 percent chance of acceptable conditions. Air Force Launch Weather Officer Jim Sardonia gave this overview on Wednesday:

"Conditions will moderate somewhat after sunset on Thursday, however residual moisture may bring thick layered clouds and some scattered light rain over CCAFS during the launch countdown and window. Another late season frontal system is now expected to move into central Florida on Friday further destabilizing the weather conditions on Friday morning and Saturday. The main concerns on launch day include the chance of Thick Layered Clouds and scattered rainshowers within 5 nautical miles of SLC 36."

The launch time forecast on Friday calls for stratocumulus clouds scattered at 2,000 feet with 3/8ths sky coverage, altostratus clouds scattered at 10,000 feet with 4/8ths sky coverage and a broken deck of cirrus clouds at 25,000 feet with 6/8ths sky coverage, visibility of 5 miles, southwesterly winds 10 to 18 knots at the pad, a temperature of 77 to 79 degrees F, relative humidity of 90 percent and a chance of scattered rainshowers in the vicinity.

If the launch is delayed for some reason to Saturday -- the backup launch opportunity on the Eastern Range -- conditions are expected to worsen with a 60 percent of good weather. The concerns will be promixity to cumulus clouds, thick layered clouds and rainshowers in the area.

Countdown clocks will start ticking at 4:31 p.m. EDT (2031 GMT) Thursday afternoon at Complex 36. Senior managers will report for duty around 9:30 p.m. EDT (0130 GMT) at the Mission Directors Center in Cape Canaveral's Industrial Area. The full launch team shall be seated in the Complex 36 Blockhouse by 10:06 p.m. EDT (0206 GMT) as the Integrated Launch Operations begin from T-minus 150 minutes and counting.

The mobile service tower enclosing the Atlas rocket at pad 36B will be retracted for launch at 10:21 p.m. EDT (0221 GMT), pending acceptable weather conditions. After a 30-minute long built-in hold at T-minus 105 minutes, the three-step process of fueling the rocket should start. Loading of super-cold liquid oxygen into the Centaur upper stage will be first at 11:35 p.m. EDT (0335 GMT). Next will be liquid oxygen tanking of the Atlas booster stage beginning at 11:56 p.m. EDT (0356 GMT), followed by liquid hydrogen fueling of the Centaur starting at 12:12 a.m. EDT (0412 GMT).

A 15-minute planned hold will occur at 1:01 a.m. EDT (0501 GMT) as the countdown reaches T-minus 5 minutes. During the pause, final readiness polls of launch team members and management will be conducted. If no problems are reported, clocks will resume ticking at 1:16 a.m. EDT (0516 GMT) for liftoff at 1:21 a.m. EDT (0521 GMT).

Spaceflight Now will provide extensive live coverage of the countdown and launch with running updates throughout the evening in our Mission Status Center. In addition, we will offer a live QuickTime streaming video broadcast starting at 12:30 a.m. EDT (0430 GMT).

The Atlas rocket sits illuminated by flood lights at pad 36B.

Flight data file
Vehicle: Atlas 2AS (AC-161)
Payload: EchoStar 6
Launch date: July 14, 2000
Launch window: 0521-0720 GMT (1:21-3:20 a.m. EDT)
Launch site: SLC-36B, Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Flight profile
Track the major launch events for the Atlas 2AS rocket carrying the EchoStar 6 satellite on Spaceflight Now's interactive flight profile page (requires JavaScript).

Pre-launch briefing
Launch preview - Read our story for a complete preview of the EchoStar 6 launch.

Launch timeline - Chart with times and descriptions of events to occur during the launch.

Atlas 2AS vehicle data - Overview of the rocket that will launch EchoStar 6 into space.

EchoStar 6 - Description of the satellite to be launched on AC-161.

Video vault
The Lockheed Martin Atlas 2AS rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral to deliver the EchoStar 6 satellite into orbit.
  PLAY (314k, 34sec QuickTime file)
Watch a movie about the planned sequence of events as the Atlas 2AS rocket carries the EchoStar 6 TV satellite into orbit.
  PLAY (1.0M, 2min 32sec QuickTime file)
An in-depth look at the Lockheed Martin Atlas 2AS rocket and Centaur upper stage that will launch EchoStar 6.
  PLAY (461k, 1min 03sec QuickTime file)

Learn more about the EchoStar 6 direct-to-home TV satellite that will expand services for DISH Network subscribers.
  PLAY (515k, 46sec QuickTime file)
Download QuickTime 4 software to view this file.

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