BY JUSTIN RAY

Follow the countdown and launch of the Lockheed Martin Atlas 3B rocket with the EchoStar 7 direct broadcasting satellite. Reload this page for the very latest on the mission. Use our text only page for faster downloads.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2002

After more than 40 years of flights using numerous reincarnations, the evolution of the American Atlas rocket took another step Thursday with the successful maiden launch of the largest and most powerful version of the storied booster - the Atlas 3B. Read our full launch story.

For our Spaceflight Now Plus subscribers here are some movies from today's successful flight of the Atlas 3B rocket carrying the EchoStar 7 satellite. The launch clip runs from T-minus 5 seconds through the first ignition of the Centaur upper stage and even shows the RD-180 engine shutting down and jettison of the spent Atlas stage.

Spaceflight Now Plus
Video coverage for subscribers only:

   VIDEO: 3 1/2 MINUTE REPLAY OF ATLAS 3B LAUNCH QT or RV
   VIDEO: OFFICIALS DECLARE LAUNCH SUCCESSFUL QT or RV
   AUDIO: LISTEN TO ENTIRE POST-LAUNCH NEWS BRIEFING QT or RV
   VIDEO: ATLAS ROCKET PRE-LAUNCH PROCESSING QT or RV
   VIDEO: ECHOSTAR 7 PRE-LAUNCH PROCESSING QT or RV

1410 GMT (9:10 a.m. EST)

Here are the orbit numbers from Lockheed Martin, which show the Atlas rocket performed exceptionally well, delivering EchoStar 7 into a much higher orbit than required.

The satellite was injected into a geosynchronous transfer orbit around Earth with an apogee of 57,371.66 km. The contractual requirement was 40,292 km. The perigee achieved is 186.41 km of an expected 196.206 km and inclination of 22.88 degrees for targeted 23.1 degrees to the equator.

1347 GMT (8:47 a.m. EST)

Ground controllers have acquired the signal from EchoStar 7, confirming the satellite is alive in orbit following this morning's launch.

The craft has been placed into a highly elliptical geosynchronous transfer orbit. The satellite will perform a series of maneuvers to achieve a circular geostationary orbit, ultimately parking itself over the equator at 119 degrees West longitude. After a full testing period, EchoStar expects to put the craft into service in mid-April to provide direct-to-home TV programming to subscribers of the DISH Network across the U.S.

Built by Lockheed Martin, EchoStar 7 will take over providing the services currently relayed by the EchoStar 4 satellite, which has suffered some technical problems. In addition, EchoStar 7 will increase DISH Network programming by beaming local TV channels to Alaska and Hawaii.

We will pause our coverage this point. Check back later this morning for some movie clips of today's spectacular launch.

Lockheed Martin plans a post-launch news conference at 12 noon EST to review the results of the inaugural Atlas 3B rocket. We'll post a complete launch wrap-up story after the briefing.

1340 GMT (8:40 a.m. EST)

Still waiting for confirmation of acquisition of the EchoStar 7 satellite's signal. Lockheed Martin says there are no problems, it is just taking a few extra minutes to confirm the data.

1315 GMT (8:15 a.m. EST)

As the Lockheed Martin launch team celebrates its 59th straight successful flight of an Atlas rocket, the EchoStar 7 spacecraft team expects to establish contact with the satellite in a few minutes. That contact will confirm the health of the craft following launch.

1311 GMT (8:11 a.m. EST)

T+plus 28 minutes, 30 seconds. SPACECRAFT SEPARATION! The EchoStar 7 direct-to-home TV satellite has been released into space following launch this morning by the successful first flight Lockheed Martin Atlas 3B rocket.

1311 GMT (8:11 a.m. EST)

T+plus 28 minutes, 20 seconds. Spinup of the Centaur upper stage has started in advance of spacecraft deployment in about 10 seconds.

1309 GMT (8:09 a.m. EST)

T+plus 26 minutes. The orbit achieved following the second Centaur burn is well within acceptable range.

1308 GMT (8:08 a.m. EST)

T+plus 25 minutes, 30 seconds. The Centaur is beginning its reorientation maneuver to prepare for releasing the payload.

1307 GMT (8:07 a.m. EST)

T+plus 24 minutes, 50 seconds. The Centaur engines have shut down, completing the powered phase of today's launch. Coming up on deployment of the EchoStar 7 satellite at about T+plus 28 minutes, 28 seconds.

1306 GMT (8:06 a.m. EST)

T+plus 23 minutes, 30 seconds. Centaur burn continues normally.

1306 GMT (8:06 a.m. EST)

T+plus 23 minutes. Centaur engines operating at full thrust.

1305 GMT (8:05 a.m. EST)

T+plus 22 minutes, 43 seconds. Centaur is firing again. The two RL-10 engines have reignited for two-minute burn to boost the EchoStar cargo from the current low-altitude parking orbit to a highly elliptical geosynchronous transfer orbit around Earth.

1304 GMT (8:04 a.m. EST)

T+plus 21 minutes, 30 seconds. Small thrusters on the Centaur stage are firing to settle the propellant inside the vehicle's tanks to prepare for engine ignition.

1301 GMT (8:01 a.m. EST)

T+plus 18 minutes. The vehicle is now approaching the African Ivory Coast as it coasts above the Central Atlantic. Now about four minutes until Centaur engine restart.

1257 GMT (7:57 a.m. EST)

T+plus 14 minutes. The vehicle continues in its quiet coast through space. Restart of the Centaur is planned to occur at about T+plus 22 minutes, 40 seconds for a two-minute, 7-second burn that will accelerate EchoStar 7 into its geosynchronous transfer orbit.

1254 GMT (7:54 a.m. EST)

T+plus 11 minutes. The first burn of the new "stretched" Centaur appears to have gone well. The parking orbit achieved is 192.63 km at apogee, 185.06 km at perigee with an inclination of 28.05 degrees. That orbit is right on the planned mark.

1251 GMT (7:51 a.m. EST)

T+plus 8 minutes, 50 seconds. MECO 1. The Centaur main engines have shut down as planned following the first of two planned firings to deliver the EchoStar 7 spacecraft into orbit. The vehicle will coast for about 14 minutes before the Centaur reignites.

1251 GMT (7:51 a.m. EST)

T+plus 8 minutes. Less than a minute left in the first burn of the Centaur.

1249 GMT (7:49 a.m. EST)

T+plus 6 minutes, 30 seconds. Altitude 101 miles, downrange distance 586, velocity 12,200 mph.

1249 GMT (7:49 a.m. EST)

T+plus 6 minutes. The vehicle has completed a "dog-leg maneuver" to adjust its course and rolled to an attitude for communications with NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System.

1248 GMT (7:48 a.m. EST)

T+plus 5 minutes. The Centaur continues to fire normally.

1247 GMT (7:47 a.m. EST)

T+plus 4 minutes. The payload fairing has been jettisoned. It is no longer needed to protect the EchoStar 7 satellite during the launch.

1246 GMT (7:46 a.m. EST)

T+plus 3 minutes, 15 seconds. Ignition of Centaur's two engines has been confirmed.

1246 GMT (7:46 a.m. EST)

T+plus 3 minutes, 7 seconds. The engine has shut down as planned and the spent Atlas has been jettisoned.

1245 GMT (7:45 a.m. EST)

T+plus 2 minutes, 50 seconds. The RD-180 engine is throttling down to 47 percent of thrust in preparation for shutdown.

1245 GMT (7:45 a.m. EST)

T+plus 2 minutes, 30 seconds. The engine continues to burn well.

1244 GMT (7:44 a.m. EST)

T+plus 80 seconds. Altitude 8 miles, downrange distance 4.8, velocity 1,300 mph.

1244 GMT (7:44 a.m. EST)

T+plus 65 seconds. Good flight reported so far. The RD-180 engine is throttling up to 87 percent of thrust after passing through the dense lower atmosphere.

1243 GMT (7:43 a.m. EST)

T+plus 30 seconds. Pitch and roll programs underway as the vehicle heads eastward away from Florida. The RD-180 engine will be throttling down to ease the vehicle through maximum dynamic pressure.

1243 GMT (7:43 a.m. EST)

LIFTOFF! The Russian RD-180 engine fires to life and the Lockheed Martin Atlas 3B rocket blasts off on its maiden flight carrying the EchoStar 7 direct-to-home TV broadcasting spacecraft!

1242 GMT (7:42 a.m. EST)

T-minus 31 seconds. Launch Sequence Start. The Atlas 3B rocket's onboard computer is now controlling the countdown.

In the next few seconds the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen vent valves will be locked and the flight data recorders will be readied.

1242 GMT (7:42 a.m. EST)

T-minus 1 minute. The RD-180 engine is being verified ready for flight and final status checks are under way. Engine ignition will occur at T-minus 2.73 seconds and the Russian-made powerplant will build up to 74 percent thrust. A check of eight engine parameters will performed by the rocket's onboard computer a half-second before liftoff. If no problems are detected, the rocket will be allowed to launch at T-0.

In the past minute, the inertial navigation unit was launch enabled, Centaur liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanking was secured, fuel tank pressures stable and the ignition enable switch was closed.

1241 GMT (7:41 a.m. EST)

T-minus 2 minutes. Pressurization of the Atlas/Centaur vehicle has started. Tanks now being brought to proper pressure levels for flight. Also, the vehicle's inadvertent separation destruct safety system has been armed. Shortly, the Centaur upper stage will go to internal power and the flight termination system will be armed.

1240 GMT (7:40 a.m. EST)

T-minus 3 minutes. RP-1 kerosene fuel is now flowing into the RD-180 engine, conditioning the powerplant for ignition.

And 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.

1239 GMT (7:39 a.m. EST)

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

1238 GMT (7:38 a.m. EST)

T-minus 5 minutes and counting! The countdown has resumed for this morning's debut launch of the Lockheed Martin Atlas 3B rocket. Liftoff is set for 7:43 a.m. EST from pad 36B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

1236 GMT (7:36 a.m. EST)

Lockheed Martin Launch Director Adrian Laffitte has given his "go" to resume the countdown and proceed to liftoff at 7:43 a.m. EST. There are no technical problems to report, the weather is acceptable, upper level winds are acceptable and the Range is clear. Standing by to resume the countdown in two minutes.

1235 GMT (7:35 a.m. EST)

The Lockheed Martin final readiness poll of the entire launch team was just performed by Launch Conductor Ed Christiansen in the Complex 36 Blockhouse. Everyone reported "go" for launch!

1233 GMT (7:33 a.m. EST)

The fuel-fill sequence for the Russian-made RD-180 main engine that powers the Atlas rocket during its first three minutes of flight. This process begins with the evacuaton of pressure in the engine. Kerosene fuel will begin pouring into the engine at T-3 minutes, 35 seconds in preparation for ignition.

1232 GMT (7:32 a.m. EST)

Upper level winds are go for launch! The latest weather balloon has found acceptable conditions for liftoff today. So there are now no issues standing in the way of liftoff at 7:43 a.m. EST.

1226 GMT (7:26 a.m. EST)

The EchoStar 7 spacecraft atop the Atlas 3B rocket is now switching to internal power for launch.

1223 GMT (7:23 a.m. EST)

T-minus 5 minutes and holding. The countdown has entered this final planned hold. The pause is scheduled to last 15 minutes, but will be extended if the upper level winds do not improve. Weather balloons are being sent up to measure the winds in hopes the conditions become acceptable for a safe launch of the Atlas 3B rocket today.

Liftoff is targeted for no sooner than 7:43 a.m. EST. Today's available launch window extends to 8:14 a.m. EST.

The Atlas-Centaur rocket is now fully fueled with the liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen tanks at flight level following their loading over the past hour or so. The first stage RP-1 tank was fueled prior to the countdown.

1218 GMT (7:18 a.m. EST)

T-minus 10 minutes and counting. Coming up on the planned 15-minute built-in hold at T-minus 5 minutes. Countdown activities continue, though there are a few minor technical bugs being discussed. But the chief concern right now is upper level winds.

1210 GMT (7:10 a.m. EST)

Launch Weather Officer Jim Sardonia has just given his final scheduled update to managers for this launch attempt. All ground weather constraints remain "go" for liftoff. The upper level winds are the only concern at this point. The next update on the winds aloft is expected at 7:33 a.m. EST.

1203 GMT (7:03 a.m. EST)

T-minus 25 minutes and counting. Countdown clocks are ticking down to the T-minus 5 minute mark where a 15-minute hold will occur. Liftoff still set for 7:43 a.m. EST (1243 GMT). The only concern at this point is upper level winds, which are just over the acceptable limit for launch. The next weather balloon data on the winds is expected at 7:33 a.m.

Interrogation checks have been completed to verify the rocket's C-band beacon is ready for use to track the vehicle during flight.

1156 GMT (6:56 a.m. EST)

The Centaur liquid hydrogen tank has reached 97 percent level. The Atlas and Centaur tanks have to be topped off as the countdown continues to replenished the cryogenics that naturally boils away.

Also, an inhibited self test of the rocket's Flight Termination System is starting. The FTS would be used to destroy the vehicle in the event of a malfunction during launch.

1145 GMT (6:45 a.m. EST)

Lockheed Martin has just announced that upper level winds are currently "no go" for launch. Weather balloons are being released to gather data on the conditions. The situation is just over the limit, so there is still hope.

The weather on the ground is acceptable and predicted to remain favorable.

1143 GMT (6:43 a.m. EST)

Now one hour away from the scheduled launch time. The sun is rising here at Cape Canaveral and the weather looks good.

Loading of the rocket with super-cold rocket fuel is nearing completion. The hydrogen tank is now 40 percent full. The Centaur and Atlas liquid oxygen tanks are about full.

1132 GMT (6:32 a.m. EST)

The liquid hydrogen chilldown is now complete and the super-cold fuel is flowing to fill the Centaur upper stage. The cryogenic propellant will be consumed with liquid oxygen by the stage's Pratt & Whitney-made RL-10 engines to propel the EchoStar 7 satellite into the targeted geosynchronous transfer orbit this morning.

Meanwhile, the Atlas liquid oxygen tank is now at the 40 percent level.

1127 GMT (6:27 a.m. EST)

The countdown continues for today's 7:43 a.m. EST liftoff from pad 36B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

At launch pad 36B, the Atlas stage liquid oxygen tank is now 10 percent full. The rocket's shiny exterior has turned a frosty white as a thin layer of ice forms from the super-cold liquid oxygen. Atlas 3 rockets feature a first stage liquid oxygen tank nearly 10 feet longer than the older Atlas 2-series vehicles because of the extra LOX needed by the Russian RD-180 main engine.

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

1119 GMT (6:19 a.m. EST)

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

1113 GMT (6:13 a.m. EST)

Launch is now 90 minutes away. Fueling continues, there are no significant technical problems standing in the way of launch and the weather is improving from the rainy conditions experienced earlier this morning here in Central Florida.

1111 GMT (6:11 a.m. EST)

The chilldown conditioning of liquid hydrogen propellant lines at pad 36B is now starting. This process is like the one performed on the liquid oxygen side whereby a small amount of the liquid is released from the pad's storage tank to prepare the plumbing for transferring the Minus-423 degree F fuel into the rocket.

Also at this time the door of the Complex 36 Blockhouse is being sealed, protecting the 120-member launch team. The Blockhouse is located just 1,400 feet away from the Atlas 3A rocket at pad 36B, and serves as the control center for the countdown to launch.

1106 GMT (6:06 a.m. EST)

The Centaur upper stage's liquid oxygen tank is now 40 percent full in this early portion of fueling operations.

The launch team has just reported an issue with the liquid oxygen dump valve on the pad's umbilical tower that doesn't appear to be closing fully. It does not have an impact on fueling operations at present, so loading of Centaur continues. The Anomaly Team has been convened for discussion of the situation to ensure this isn't a problem later in the countdown when the tank is topped off for launch.

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.

1055 GMT (5:55 a.m. EST)

Chilldown conditioning 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 super-cold cryogenic oxidizer. The liquid oxygen is chilled to Minus-298 degrees F, and will be consumed by the Centaur's twin RL-10 engines along with liquid hydrogen to be pumped into the stage a little later in the countdown.

To repeat, a pair of technical issues did delay the countdown this morning. The concerns have been resolved and liftoff is now set for 7:43 a.m. EST.

1044 GMT (5:44 a.m. EST)

The "chilldown" procedure is starting 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.

1043 GMT (5:43 a.m. EST)

T-minus 105 minutes and counting. The countdown is running again following a one-hour hold, twice as long as originally planned due to two technical problems that the launch team had to work through. Those problems have been resolved and all systems are now "go" to begin fueling the Atlas/Centaur rocket starting in the next few minutes.

The countdown will continue to T-minus 5 minutes where a planned 15-minute built-in hold is scheduled. Launch of the first Atlas 3B rocket is now targeted for 7:43 a.m. EST (1243 GMT).

1035 GMT (5:35 a.m. EST)

The technicians at the launch pad working with the liquid nitrogen leak report that the countdown can continue despite the leak around a quick disconnect fitting. The nitrogen flowing through that line will be restricted to a "fine flow" instead of a faster flow, thereby reducing the amount of leakage.

So the decision has been made to pick up the countdown at the end of this extended hold period at 5:43 a.m. EST. Liftoff is now officially reset for 7:43 a.m. EST.

1027 GMT (5:27 a.m. EST)

Engineers working the issue with suspect measurements from some system report they did some tweaking and have cleared up the readings. And so they are now "go" to continue with the countdown.

However, the separate team dealing with the nitrogen leak is still working.

1021 GMT (5:21 a.m. EST)

HOLD EXTENDED AGAIN. Launch Conductor Ed Christiansen has extended this hold in the countdown another 20 minutes while work continues on two problems -- a liquid nitrogen leak at the pad and erratic readings on some system. The hold was already extended 10 minutes.

This should effectly delay the liftoff time by a half-hour to 7:43 a.m. EST, though we are still waiting on confirmation of that. Today's launch window extends to 8:14 a.m. EST.

1019 GMT (5:19 a.m. EST)

The engineers studying some erratic readings on a system that is partly to blame in this delay of the countdown report the problem could be a relay that is getting hung in a Signal Conditioning Unit. A team has been dispatched to go investigate that unit. It is not clear exactly what system this problem is affecting.

1011 GMT (5:11 a.m. EST)

HOLD EXTENDED! Launch Conductor Ed Christiansen recommended and Launch Director Adrian Laffitte concurred with the plan to extend this hold in the countdown by an additional 10 minutes, giving the launch team time to discuss the two issues noted below.

1010 GMT (5:10 a.m. EST)

Lockheed Martin Launch Conductor Ed Christiansen has just polled the launch team for a readiness check in preparation to begin fueling the Atlas rocket. A liquid nitrogen leak has been found at the pad that technicians are working to resolve and engineers are troubleshooting some suspect measurements on a system.

0958 GMT (4:58 a.m. EST)

Now half-way through this 30-minute scheduled hold at T-minus 105 minutes.

0943 GMT (4:43 a.m. EST)

T-minus 105 minutes and holding. Clocks have entered a planned 30-minute hold period for the countdown this morning at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for launch of the inaugural Lockheed Martin Atlas 3B rocket.

The count has 45 minutes of built-in holds scheduled over the course the morning that will lead to liftoff at 7:13 a.m. EST (1213 GMT). A second and final hold is planned at T-minus 5 minutes for 15 minutes. The holds are designed to give the launch team a window of time to work any problems that could arise without delaying other pre-flight preparations.

The mobile service tower has been retracted to the launch position and final checks of the pad are underway before workers clear the area in preparation for fueling. Also, the launch team is starting the final alignment of the vehicle's guidance computer following the recent completion of a navigation test.

The Air Force has announced one COLA, or Collision Avoidance period, that will prohibit liftoff for a few minutes during today's 61-minute launch window. The COLA extends from 7:32:25 to 7:38:01 a.m. EST. The COLA cutout ensures the craft isn't launched on a course that would take it too close to an orbiting object already in space.

0917 GMT (4:17 a.m. EST)

The 219-foot tall mobile service tower at pad 36B has begun to roll away from the Atlas 3B rocket. The structure is being wheeled back to expose the rocket for launch, which is just under three hours away.

The tower is used to erect the rocket on the launch pad, provide access for workers to all areas of the vehicle and give protection from the weather. It is electrically driven on four-wheel assemblies.

Here at Cape Canaveral this morning skies are cloudy, there are some showers around and the winds are brisk. This is all from weather system sliding through the Central Florida area. But forecasters do believe there is a shot to get the Atlas launched during today's 61-minute window.

0858 GMT (3:58 a.m. EST)

T-minus 150 minutes and counting. "Man stations for Integrated Launch Operations." That is the call to the launch team for members to take their positions at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as the countdown shifts into high gear for this morning's liftoff of the Lockheed Martin Atlas 3B rocket carrying the EchoStar 7 direct-to-home TV broadcasting spacecraft.

There are two built-in holds, lasting for a total of 45 minutes, scheduled into the countdown at T-minus 105 minutes and T-minus 5 minutes.

Liftoff remains set for 7:13 a.m. EST.

The countdown is being controlled from the Complex 36 Blockhouse where the 120-member launch team has assembled to oversee the activities leading up to liftoff of this first Atlas 3B rocket, designated AC-204.

At launch pad 36B, access platforms and equipment inside the mobile service tower have been stowed, and technicians are preparing for retraction of the structure from around the rocket.

Engineers have worked one issue overnight involving a leak on the ground side of the "pogo" suppression system. A flex hose is being replaced at this time. Although some pre-launch preparations are now running behind schedule, officials do not expect this will delay fueling or the planned launch time.

0323 GMT (10:23 p.m. EST Wed.)

Clocks at Launch Complex 36 begin counting down at this time for this morning's launch of the Lockheed Martin Atlas 3B rocket carrying the commercial EchoStar 7 direct broadcasting satellite.

Liftoff is scheduled for 7:13 a.m. EST (1213 GMT). The launch team will have 61 minutes -- until 8:14 a.m. EST -- to get the rocket airborne today.

Air Force meteorologists are predicting a 70 percent chance of meeting the launch weather rules. Clouds and rainshowers are the two areas of concern.

Throughout the overnight hours the crews in the blockhouse and at pad 36B will proceed through their standard countdown chores needed to ready the Atlas booster and its new "stretched" Centaur upper stage for launch, as well as the ground systems and EchoStar spacecraft.

Highlights of activities planned, in the order they are scheduled to be performed, include Centaur propulsion launch preps, powering up the rocket's flight control system, Atlas propulsion and hydraulic systems preps, preps of the pad's tower and mobile service structure, performing the flight control operational test, the internal power test of Atlas/Centaur, performing a navigation test of rocket's guidance computer, Centaur engine igniter checks, starting Centaur helium purges and starting liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen system final preps.

The Integrated Launch Operations -- the final portion of the countdown in which all members of the launch team participate -- will start at 3:58 a.m. EST (0858 GMT). Retraction of the mobile service tower from around the rocket is slated for 4:13 a.m. EST.

Countdown clocks will enter a planned 30-minute hold at the T-minus 105 minute mark starting at 4:43 a.m. EST. During this time the launch team will have a chance to catch up on any work that might be running behind schedule.

Fueling operations will commence at 5:27 a.m. EST with super-cold liquid oxygen flowing into the Centaur upper stage. Loading of liquid oxygen into the Atlas booster stage should start at 5:48 a.m. EST. The final segment of fueling will begin at 6:04 a.m. EST when liquid hydrogen is pumped into the Centaur. The Atlas stage was previously fueled with its supply of RP-1 kerosene.

A final planned hold is scheduled at T-minus 5 minutes for 15 minutes in duration. If there are no problems standing in the way of liftoff, the countdown will resume at 7:08 a.m. EST for an on-time launch.

Read our earlier status center coverage.

Flight data file
Vehicle: Atlas 3B (AC-204)
Payload: EchoStar 7
Launch date: Feb. 21, 2002
Launch window: 7:13-8:14 a.m. EST (1213-1314 GMT
Launch site: SLC-36B, Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla.
Satellite broadcast: Telstar 6, Trans. 22, C-band

Pre-launch briefing
Launch preview - Our story previewing this inaugural flight of Atlas 3B.

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

Ground track - See the trajectory the rocket will follow during its flight.

Atlas 3B vehicle data - Overview of the rocket to be used in this launch.

The RD-180 - Facts and figures about the Russian-built engine to power Atlas 3.

EchoStar 7 - Description of this direct-to-home TV broadcasting satellite.

Atlas index - A directory of our previous Atlas launch coverage.


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