12 Facts About Atlas V


Atlas V is an expendable launch system and the fifth major version in the Atlas launch vehicle family.

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Atlas V was developed by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services as part of the U S Air Force Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program and made its inaugural flight on 21 August 2002.

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Many systems on the Atlas V have been the subject of upgrade and enhancement both prior to the first Atlas V flight and since that time.

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In 2015, ULA announced that the Aerojet Rocketdyne-produced AJ-60A solid rocket boosters then in use on Atlas V would be superseded by new GEM 63 boosters produced by Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems.

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Proposals and design work to human-rate the Atlas V began as early as 2006, with ULA's parent company Lockheed Martin reporting an agreement with Bigelow Aerospace that was intended to lead to commercial private trips to low Earth orbit .

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In 2011, the human-rated Atlas V was still under consideration to carry spaceflight participants to the proposed Bigelow Commercial Space Station.

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In 2011, Sierra Nevada Corporation picked the Atlas V to be the booster for its still-under-development Dream Chaser crewed spaceplane.

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The Dream Chaser was intended to launch on an Atlas V, fly a crew to the ISS, and landing horizontally following a lifting-body reentry.

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The first flight was expected to include an Atlas V rocket integrated with an uncrewed CST-100 capsule, the second flight an in-flight launch abort system demonstration in the middle of that year, and the third flight a crewed mission carrying two Boeing test-pilot astronauts into LEO and returning them safely at the end of 2015.

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In 2022, an Atlas V launched a Starliner capsule for the second time, ending with mission success.

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Example, an Atlas V 551 has a 5-meter fairing, 5 SRBs, and 1 Centaur engine, whereas an Atlas V 431 has a 4-meter fairing, 3 SRBs, and 1 Centaur engine.

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However, in recent years the price of an Atlas V [401] has dropped from approximately US$180 million to US$109 million, in large part due to competitive pressure that emerged in the launch services marketplace during the early 2010s.

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