Spaceflight Now: Atlas Launch Report
Photo Gallery:
Maiden launch of Atlas 3

Posted: May 24, 2000

Lockheed Martin's first Atlas 3A rocket was successfully launched on May 24 from Cape Canaveral and placed the Eutelsat W4 satellite into orbit. Images: Lockheed Martin TV/Spaceflight Now.

The Russian-made RD-180 engine roars to life at pad 36B at T-minus 2.73 seconds.
The Atlas 3A rocket launches on its maiden voyage.
Away we go
A camera mounted on the side of the rocket shows the start of a grand journey to space.
Rocketcam liftoff
On course
A tracking camera shows the Atlas 3 during its flight downrange.
Leaving Florida behind
The 'rocketcam' shows the Earth fading away with the RD-180 engine's fiery plume still seen.
Atlas cam
So long booster stage
Another camera mounted to the bottom of the Centaur stage shows the Atlas stage separating just over three minutes into flight.
Atlas sep
Staging from other view
The external 'rocketcam' provides a different prospective of the Atlas booster stage separating from Centaur.
Atlas sep
Discarding pieces
The spent Atlas stage and two halves of the payload fairing are seen falling back to Earth by camera mounted on Centaur upper stage.
Flying high
The single Centaur engine continues to fire, boosting the Eutelsat W4 satellite into the correct orbit around Earth.
Flight data file
Vehicle: Atlas 3A (AC-201)
Payload: Eutelsat's W4
Launch date: May 24, 2000
Launch window: 2139-2358 GMT (5:39-7:58 p.m. EDT)
Launch site: SLC-36B, Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Video vault
The inaugural Lockheed Martin Atlas 3A rocket launches from Cape Canaveral with the Eutelsat W4 satellite.
  PLAY (317k, 36sec QuickTime file)
A video camera mounted to the side of the Lockheed Martin Atlas 3A rocket shows the successful liftoff from Cape Canaveral's pad 36B.
  PLAY (775k, 1min 49sec QuickTime file)
The Atlas booster stage separates and the payload fairing is jettisoned as seen by a video camera mounted to the side of rocket.
  PLAY (366k, 52sec QuickTime file)
A camera attached to the Centaur upper stage shows the Atlas booster stage being released and ignition of the RL-10 engine.
  PLAY (534k, 1min 00sec QuickTime file)
Watch the planned sequence of events as the inaugural Atlas 3A rocket carries the Eutelsat W4 telecommunications satellite into orbit.
  PLAY (775k, 2min 39sec QuickTime file)
Lockheed Martin's John Karas explains how the Atlas 3A will accelerate from Earth much faster than previous Atlas rockets.
  PLAY (230k, 1min 30sec QuickTime file)
Learn about the engines and stages of the Lockheed Martin Atlas 3A rocket that will launch the Eutelsat W4 satellite.
  PLAY (342k, 49sec QuickTime file)
The Russian RD-180 engine is test fired at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center to prepare for use aboard the Atlas 3 rocket.
  PLAY (155k, 23sec QuickTime file)
The first Lockheed Martin Atlas 3A rocket is assembled at Cape Canaveral's pad 36Bfor the inaugural launch.
  PLAY (500k, 1min 16sec QuickTime file)
Eutelsat's W4 telecommunications satellite undergoes final pre-launch processing work in Florida.
  PLAY (331k, 50sec QuickTime file)
Download QuickTime 4 software to view this file.

Pre-launch briefing
Launch preview - Read our story for a complete preview of the first Atlas 3A launch.

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

Atlas 3A vehicle data - Overview of the rocket that will launch W4 into space.

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

Eutelsat W4 - Description of the satellite to be launched on AC-201.

Launch windows - Available windows for future launch dates of AC-201.