Inaugural Atlas 5 rocket moved to the launch pad

Posted: March 11, 2002

Lockheed Martin's first Atlas 5 rocket was rolled out to its Cape Canaveral launch pad Monday for fueling tests and a crucial countdown dress rehearsal.

Atlas 5
The first Atlas 5 rocket, designated AV-001, sits on the pad Monday at Complex 41.
Riding atop a mobile transporter, the 191-foot tall rocket made the 1,800-foot roll from its vertical assembly building to the open-air pad at Complex 41.

Lockheed Martin has installed a dummy satellite simulator and full nose cone atop of the Atlas 5 for the test, giving a realistic view of what the rocket will look like when it launches on the inaugural flight.

The schedule called for the Atlas first stage to be loaded with RP-1 propellant, a highly refined kerosene on Monday.

On Tuesday, the launch team will assemble for a full countdown that will include loading the first stage with super-cold liquid oxygen and the Centaur upper stage with its supply of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.

If the tests go well, the rocket will be safed and then rolled back to its assembly building on Wednesday.

This is the first of three such dress rehearsals planned before launch.

Lockheed Martin delayed this initial countdown test by two weeks to deconflict the busy work schedules for the Atlas team, which successfully launched the first Atlas 3B rocket on February 21 and an Atlas 2A rocket last Friday.

Crews did roll the rocket to the pad last Wednesday, however, for RP-1 loading exercises and tests with the Air Force-controlled Eastern Range at the Cape. The vehicle was then returned to the hangar on Thursday.

The maiden Atlas 5 launch, originally scheduled for May 9, has slipped into June due to delays readying the rocket's paying cargo -- Eutelsat's Hot Bird-6 direct-to-home TV broadcasting satellite.

Now showing
For Spaceflight Now+Plus service (subscribers only):

Preview a Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 400-series rocket launch with this animation package of a 401 configuration vehicle lofting a communications satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit.
  QuickTime or RealVideo

This animation shows the launch of a Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 500-series rocket, which features a larger payload fairing and five solid rocket boosters.
  QuickTime or RealVideo

The first Atlas 5 rocket is unveiled at Lockheed Martin's Denver facility in this ceremony with emotion-stirring music.
  QuickTime or RealVideo

See full listing of video clips.
Atlas 5 Info
The Atlas family - Comparison of the Atlas 2, 3 and 5 rockets.

Atlas 5 400 description - A look at the pieces that make up the 400-series rocket.

Atlas 5 500 description - A look at the pieces that make up the 500-series rocket.

Typical Atlas 5 400-series launch - Sample look at launch sequence for Atlas 5 401 vehicle configuration.

Typical Atlas 5 500-series launch - Sample look at launch sequence for Atlas 5 551 vehicle configuration.

Space Launch Complex 41 - Overview of the Atlas 5 launch site.