WEST COAST LAUNCH: ATLAS-V NROL-39 CLASSIFIED PAYLOAD
Photo Credit: USAF; Launch of the Boeing X37B (OTV-3 / USA-240) on Dec 11, 2012. CLICK photo to view full size and see below for related information and links.
On Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 2313PST (0213 EST & 0713 UTC on the 6th) a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5-501 Rocket designated as NROL-39 will be launching a classified payload for the United States National Reconnaissance Office from Space Launch Complex-3E (SLC-3 or “Slick” 3) at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) CA, which is home to the US Air Force, 30th Space Wing.
The Atlas-5 (V) rocket is a two-stage rocket that stands 191.3ft (58.3m) tall with a diameter of 12.5ft (3.81m) and consists of an Atlas Common Core Booster with a Russian RD-180 engine and first stage with a United States RL-10 Centaur upper stage built by AeroJet Rocketdyne.
501 configuration explained.
5 = 5.4 meter fairing (head of the rocket)
0 = 0 external solid rocket boosters
1 = 1 single engine upper (second) stage named Centaur.
Want more Atlas-V-501 detail….ok!
MAIN PAYLOAD FAIRING: The Main Payload Fairing for the Atlas-V-501 is a two-shell, 5.4 meter (diameter) fairing and is used to protect the spacecraft during its ascent through atmospheric turbulence and into space. Once safely out of Earth’s atmosphere (Or at least most of it), the fairing splits and is jettisoned.
CENTAUR UPPER STAGE: The Centaur Upper stage consists of a single Cryogenic RL-10A-4-2 (RL-10) Aerojet Rocketdyne Engine that utilizes liquid hydrogen (LH2) for propellant and liquid oxygen (LOX) as an oxidizer with a burn time of up to 740 seconds to include multiple engine firings. There are also four 27-N (Newton) thrusters and eight 40-N (Newton) thrusters used for attitude control. Both utilize hydrazine as propellant.
COMMON CORE BOOSTER (First-Stage): The American Atlas-V Common Booster Core is 106.5ft (32.46m) in length by 12.5ft (3.81m) in diameter and is powered by a single two-chamber Russian RD-180 engine that utilizes Rocket Propellant-1 (RP-1 or Kerosene) as propellant and Liquid Oxygen (LOX) as the oxidizer and can burn for 253 seconds. The RD-180 engine is modeled after the 4-chanber RD-170 engines used by the Zenit rocket family.
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ULA NROL-39 Mission Page:
ULA Atlas-V Users Guide:
SpaceFlight101 NROL-39 Mission Page:
SpaceFlight101 AtlasV-501 Vehicle Page:
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