Image Credit & Copyright: United Launch Alliance (ULA) of the GPS II-F8 Atlas V-401 launch vehicle.
LAUNCH ALERT: Thursday, October 8, 2015 at 12:00 UTC (08:00 EDT & 05:00 PDT) a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V-401 rocket designated (AV-058) will be launching (NROL-55); a classified payload for the United States, Naval Reconnaissance Office (NRO) from Space Launch Complex-3 (SLC-3) at the Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA (VAFB).
It’s likely that because of the classified nature of this launch the live feed will cut off before payload fairing separation but liftoff and incipient stage of the flight will still be shown.
This will be the ULA’s 101st launch and the 58th launch of the Atlas V.
The Atlas-5 (V) 400 Series Rocket is a two-stage rocket that depending on the size of the fairing used stands between 57.3 m (188 ft.) and 59.1 m (194 ft.) 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. The vehicle is available in 4 different configurations which are built specifically for each individual mission. Its launch sites are Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), Launch Complex-41 (LC-41) or Vandenberg Air Force Base, Launch Complex-3 (LC-3). Performance to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) ranges from 10,470 lb. to 16,970 lb. Performance to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) ranges from 20,650 lb. to 33,360 lb.
401 DESIGNATION CONFIGURATION SUMMARY:
4 = 4.2 Meter fairing (2-shell).
0 = 0 External solid rocket boosters.
1 = 1 Centaur second stage engine.
MAIN PAYLOAD FAIRING (PLF): The Main Payload Fairing for the Atlas-V-401 is a two-shell, 4 m (13.8 ft.) diameter fairing and is used to protect the spacecraft & Centaur during its ascent through atmospheric turbulence and into space. Once safely out of Earth’s atmosphere (Or at least most of it), the fairing is pyrotechnically jettisoned via a debris-free actuating system.
CENTAUR UPPER STAGE: The Centaur Upper stage is 3.1 m (10 ft.) in diameter and 12.7 m (41.6 ft.) in length. It consists of a single Cryogenic RL-10A-4-2 (RL-10) Aerojet Rocketdyne Engine that provides 22,300 lb. of thrust and 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. The Centaur Forward Adapter (CFA) provides structural mountings for vehicle electronics within the spacecraft.
SOLID ROCKET BOOSTERS (SRB’s): Have a diameter of 158 cm (62.2 in) and a length of 20 m (65.6 ft.). The total number of SRB’s utilized is dependent on the individual mission and vary from none at all to 5. They are jettisoned after approximately a minute and a half of flight.
COMMON CORE BOOSTER (CCB) (First-Stage): The American Atlas-V Common Booster Core is 106.5 ft. (32.46 m) in length by 12.5 ft. (3.8 m) in diameter and is powered by a single two-chamber Russian RD-180 engine that utilizes Rocket Propellant-1 (RP-1 or highly purified kerosene) as propellant and Liquid Oxygen (LOX) as the oxidizer. It provides 860,300 lb. of thrust at sea level 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.
STREAM LIVE: (Webcast begins at 05:48 EDT (09:48 UTC)
ULA Webcast: http://www.ulalaunch.com/webcast.aspx
NROL-55 MISSION INFO:
ULA NROL-55 Mission Page: http://www.ulalaunch.com/atlas-v-to-launch-nrol55.aspx?title=Atlas+V+to+Launch+NROL-55&Category=1
UNITED LAUNCH ALLIANCE (ULA):
ULA homepage: http://www.ulalaunch.com/
Twitter for ULA CEO Tory Bruno: https://twitter.com/torybruno
Atlas V rocket: http://www.ulalaunch.com/Products_AtlasV.aspx
Atlas V Users Guide: http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/AtlasVUsersGuide2010.pdf
Atlas V 400 Series Cutaway: http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/Atlas400_Cutaway.pdf
Atlas V 500 Series Cutaway: http://www.ulalaunch.com/uploads/docs/Atlas500_Cutaway.pdf
Lockheed Martin Atlas V: http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/products/atlas.html
MAJOR MILITARY/GOVERNMENT SPACE RESOURCES:
National Reconnaissance Office (NRO): http://www.nro.gov/
Patrick AFB (45th Space Wing) (Cape Canaveral): http://www.patrick.af.mil/
5th Space Launch Squadron (5th SLS):
Vandenberg AFB (30th Space Wing): http://www.vandenberg.af.mil/
4th Space Launch Squadron (4th SLS):
Air Force Space Command: http://www.afspc.af.mil/
Peterson AFB (21st Space Wing): http://www.peterson.af.mil/
Aerojet-Rocketdyne Homepage: http://www.rocket.com/