Photos: Atlas 5 rocket assembled to launch data relay satellite for NASA

A United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket that will boost NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M, or TDRS-M, into space arrived at Cape Canaveral on June 26 aboard the Delta Mariner cargo vessel from the production factory in Alabama.

Flying in its basic two-stage configuration with no strap-on solids, the Atlas 5 was stacked aboard a mobile launch platform at the Cape’s Vertical Integration Facility on July 12 and 13.

The pre-flight assembly process saw the first stage erected, followed the next day by the integrated interstage, Centaur upper stage and boattail.

TDRS-M was encapsulated in the rocket’s nose cone at the Astrotech payload processing complex in early August, then transported through Kennedy Space Center and over to the VIF for hoisting atop the Atlas 5 on Aug. 9.

Liftoff is scheduled for Aug. 18 at 8:03 a.m. EDT (1203 GMT).

Credit: NASA-KSC