|Manufacturer||United Launch Alliance|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Cost per launch||US$110 million in 2016|
|Height||58.3 m (191 ft)|
|Diameter||3.81 m (12.5 ft)|
|Mass||590,000 kg (1,300,000 lb)|
|Payload to LEO||8,250–20,520 kg (18,190–45,240 lb)|
|Payload to GTO||4,750–8,900 kg (10,470–19,620 lb)|
|Family||Atlas (rocket family)|
|Launch sites||Cape Canaveral SLC-41|
(401: 38, 411: 6, 421: 7, 431: 3)
(501: 6, 521: 2, 531: 3, 541: 6, 551: 11)
(401: 37, 411: 6, 421: 7, 431: 3)
(501: 6, 521: 2, 531: 3, 541: 6, 551: 11)
|Partial failures||1 (401 – low orbit, customer declared success)|
|First flight||21 August 2002 (Hot Bird 6)|
|Boosters – AJ-60A|
|No. boosters||0 to 5|
|Length||17.0 m (669 in)|
|Diameter||1.6 m (62 in)|
|Gross mass||46,697 kg (102,949 lb)|
|Propellant mass||42,630 kg (93,980 lb)|
|Thrust||1,688.4 kN (379,600 lbf)|
|Specific impulse||279.3 s (2.739 km/s)|
|Burn time||94 seconds|
|First stage – Atlas CCB|
|Length||32.46 m (106.5 ft)|
|Diameter||3.81 m (12.5 ft)|
|Empty mass||21,054 kg (46,416 lb)|
|Propellant mass||284,089 kg (626,309 lb)|
|Thrust||3,827 kN (860,000 lbf) (SL)|
4,152 kN (933,000 lbf) (vac)
|Specific impulse||311.3 s (3.053 km/s) (SL)|
337.8 s (3.313 km/s) (vac)
|Burn time||253 seconds|
|Fuel||RP-1 / LOX|
|Second stage – Centaur|
|Length||12.68 m (41.6 ft)|
|Diameter||3.05 m (10.0 ft)|
|Empty mass||2,316 kg (5,106 lb)|
|Propellant mass||20,830 kg (45,920 lb)|
|Engines||1 RL10A or 1 RL10C (SEC), or 2 RL10A (DEC)|
|Thrust||99.2 kN (22,300 lbf) (RL10A)|
|Specific impulse||450.5 s (4.418 km/s) (RL10A-4-2)|
|Burn time||842 seconds (RL10A-4-2)|
|Fuel||LH2 / LOX|
Atlas V[a] is the fifth major version in the Atlas rocket family. It is an expendable launch system originally designed by Lockheed Martin, now being operated by United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture between Lockheed and Boeing.
Each Atlas V rocket consists of two main stages. The first stage is powered by a Russian RD-180 engine manufactured by RD Amross and burning kerosene and liquid oxygen. The Centaur upper stage is powered by one or two US RL10 engine(s) manufactured by Aerojet Rocketdyne and burning liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. AJ-60A strap-on solid rocket boosters (SRBs) are used in some configurations and will be replaced by GEM-63 SRBs in the near future. The standard payload fairings are 4 or 5 meters in diameter with various lengths.
The Atlas V was developed by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services (LMCLS) as part of the US Air Force Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program and made its inaugural flight on August 21, 2002. The vehicle operates from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Space Launch Complex 3-E at Vandenberg Air Force Base. LMCLS continued to market the Atlas V to commercial customers worldwide until January 2018, when ULA assumed control of commercial marketing and sales.
The Atlas V first stage, the Common Core Booster (CCB), is 12.5 ft (3.8 m) in diameter and 106.6 ft (32.5 m) in length. It is powered by one Russian RD-180 main engine burning 627,105 lb (284,450 kg) of liquid oxygen and RP-1. The booster operates for about four minutes, providing about 4 meganewtons (860,000 lbf) of thrust. Thrust can be augmented with up to five Aerojet strap-on solid rocket boosters, each providing an additional 1.27 meganewtons (285,500 lbf) of thrust for 94 seconds.
The Atlas V is the newest member of the Atlas family. Compared to the Atlas III vehicle, there are numerous changes. Compared to the Atlas II, the first stage is a near-redesign. There was no Atlas IV.
The Centaur upper stage uses a pressure-stabilized propellant-tank design and cryogenic propellants. The Centaur stage for Atlas V is stretched 5.5 ft (1.68 m) relative to the Atlas IIAS Centaur and is powered by either one or two Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10A-4-2 engines, each engine developing a thrust of 99.2 kN (22,300 lbf). The inertial navigation unit (INU) located on the Centaur provides guidance and navigation for both the Atlas and Centaur and controls both Atlas and Centaur tank pressures and propellant use. The Centaur engines are capable of multiple in-space starts, making possible insertion into low Earth parking orbit, followed by a coast period and then insertion into GTO. A subsequent third burn following a multi-hour coast can permit direct injection of payloads into geostationary orbit. As of 2006[update], the Centaur vehicle had the highest proportion of burnable propellant relative to total mass of any modern hydrogen upper stage and hence can deliver substantial payloads to a high-energy state.
Atlas V payload fairings are available in two diameters, depending on satellite requirements. The 4.2 meter diameter fairing, originally designed for the Atlas II booster, comes in three different lengths: the original 9-meter-long version and extended 10-meter and 11-meter versions, first flown respectively on the AV-008/Astra 1KR and AV-004/Inmarsat-4 F1 missions. Fairings of up to 7.2 m diameter and 32.3 m length have been considered but were never implemented.
A 5.4 meter diameter fairing (4.57 meters internally usable) was developed and built by RUAG Space in Switzerland. The RUAG fairing uses carbon fiber composite construction and is based on a similar flight-proven fairing for the Ariane 5. Three configurations are manufactured to support the Atlas V: 20.7 m, 23.4 m, and 26.5 meter long. While the classic 4-meter fairing covers only the payload, the RUAG fairing is much longer and fully encloses both the Centaur upper stage and the payload.
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. Work on a new Fault Tolerant Inertial Navigation Unit (FTINU) started in 2001 to enhance mission reliability for Atlas vehicles by replacing the existing non-redundant navigation and computing equipment with a fault-tolerant unit. The upgraded FTINU first flew in 2006,[full citation needed] and in 2010 a follow-on order for more FTINU units was awarded.[full citation needed] Later in the decade, the FTINU was replaced with avionics common to both the Atlas V and Delta IV.
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 (LEO).
Human-rating design and simulation work began in earnest in 2010, with the award of US$6,700,000 in the first phase of the NASA Commercial Crew Program (CCP) to develop an Emergency Detection System (EDS). As of February 2011, ULA had received an extension to April 2011 from NASA and was finishing up work on the EDS.
NASA solicited proposals for CCP phase 2 in October 2010, and ULA proposed to complete design work on the EDS. At the time, NASA's goal was to get astronauts to orbit by 2015. Then-ULA President and CEO Michael Gass stated that a schedule acceleration to 2014 was possible if funded. Other than the addition of the Emergency Detection System, no major changes were expected to the Atlas V rocket, but ground infrastructure modifications were planned. The most likely candidate for the human-rating was the N02 configuration, with no fairing, no solid rocket boosters, and dual RL10 engines on the Centaur upper stage.
On 18 July 2011, NASA and ULA announced an agreement on the possibility of certifying the Atlas V to NASA's standards for human spaceflight. ULA agreed to provide NASA with data on the Atlas V, while NASA would provide ULA with draft human certification requirements. In 2011, the human-rated Atlas V was also still under consideration to carry spaceflight participants to the proposed Bigelow Commercial Space Station.
In 2011, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) picked the Atlas V to be the booster for its still-under-development Dream Chaser crewed spaceplane. 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. However, in late 2014 NASA did not select the Dream Chaser to be one of the two vehicles selected under the Commercial Crew competition.
On 4 August 2011, Boeing announced that it would use the Atlas V as the initial launch vehicle for its CST-100 crew capsule. CST-100 will take NASA astronauts to the International Space Station and was also intended to service the proposed Bigelow Commercial Space Station. A three-flight test program was projected to be completed by 2015, certifying the Atlas V/CST-100 combination for human spaceflight operations. 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. These plans did not materialize.
In 2014, NASA selected the Boeing CST-100 space capsule as part of the CCD program after extensive delays. Atlas V is the launch vehicle of the CST-100. The first launch of an uncrewed CST-100 capsule occurred atop a human-rated Atlas V on the morning of December 20, 2019, however an anomaly with the Mission Elapsed Time clock aboard the CST-100 caused the spacecraft to enter a suboptimal orbit. As a result, the CST-100 could not achieve orbital insertion to reach the International Space Station, and instead deorbited after two days.
In 2015, ULA announced that the Aerojet Rocketdyne-produced AJ-60A solid rocket boosters (SRBs) currently in use on Atlas V will be superseded by new GEM 63 boosters produced by Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems. The extended GEM-63XL boosters will also be used on the Vulcan rocket that will replace the Atlas V.
Each Atlas V booster configuration has a three-digit designation. The first digit shows the diameter (in meters) of the payload fairing and has a value of "4" or "5" for fairing launches and "N" for crew capsule launches (as no payload fairing is used when a crew capsule is launched). The second digit indicates the number of solid rocket boosters (SRBs) attached to the base of the rocket and can range from "0" through "3" with the 4-meter fairing, and "0" through "5" with the 5-meter fairing. As seen in the first image, all SRB layouts are asymmetrical. The third digit represents the number of engines on the Centaur stage, either "1" or "2".
For 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. The Atlas V N22 with no fairing, two SRBs, and 2 Centaur engines was first launched in 2019. The flight carried the Starliner vehicle for its first orbital test flight.
As of June 2015[update], all versions of the Atlas V, its design and production rights, and intellectual property rights are owned by ULA and Lockheed Martin.
List date: August 8, 2019 Mass to LEO numbers are at an inclination of 28.5°. Acronyms: Single Engine Centaur (SEC), Dual Engine Centaur (DEC).
|Version||Fairing||CCBs||SRBs||Upper stage||Payload to LEO, kg||Payload to GTO, kg||Launches to date||Base price|
|511||5.4 m||1||1||SEC||10,986||5,250||0 (1 planned)||$130M|
|Heavy (HLV / 5H1)||5.4 m||3||–||SEC||–||–||0||–|
|Heavy (HLV DEC / 5H2)||5.4 m||3||–||DEC||29,400||–||0||–|
|N22 (for Starliner)||None||1||2||DEC||~13,000
Before 2016, pricing information for Atlas V launches was limited. In 2010, NASA contracted with ULA to launch the MAVEN mission on an Atlas V 401 for approximately $187 million. The 2013 cost of this configuration for the Air Force under their block buy of 36 rockets was $164 million. In 2015, the TDRS-M launch on an Atlas 401 cost NASA $132.4 million.
Starting in 2016, ULA provided pricing for the Atlas V through its RocketBuilder website, advertising a base price for each rocket configuration, which ranges from $109 million for the 401 up to $153 million for the 551. Each additional SRB adds an average of $6.8 million to the cost of the rocket. Customers can also choose to purchase larger payload fairings or additional launch service options. NASA and Air Force launch costs are often higher than equivalent commercial missions due to additional government accounting, analysis, processing, and mission assurance requirements, which can add $30–$80 million to the cost of a launch.
In 2013, launch costs for commercial satellites to GTO averaged about $100 million, significantly lower than historic Atlas V pricing. However, in recent years the price of an Atlas V has dropped from approximately $180 million to $109 million, in large part due to competitive pressure that emerged in the launch services marketplace during the early 2010s. ULA CEO Tory Bruno has stated that ULA needs at least 2 commercial missions each year in order to stay profitable going forward. ULA is not attempting to win these missions on purely lowest purchase price, stating that it "would rather be the best value provider". ULA suggests that customers will have much lower insurance and delay costs because of the high Atlas V reliability and schedule certainty, making overall customer costs close to that of using competitors like the SpaceX Falcon 9.
In 2006, ULA offered an Atlas V Heavy option that would use three Common Core Booster (CCB) stages strapped together to lift a 29,400 kg payload to low Earth orbit. ULA stated at the time that 95% of the hardware required for the Atlas V Heavy has already been flown on the Atlas V single-core vehicles. The lifting capability of the proposed rocket was to be roughly equivalent to the Delta IV Heavy, which utilizes RS-68 engines developed and produced domestically by Aerojet Rocketdyne.
A 2006 report, prepared by the RAND Corporation for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, stated that Lockheed Martin had decided not to develop an Atlas V heavy-lift vehicle (HLV). The report recommended for the Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office to "determine the necessity of an EELV heavy-lift variant, including development of an Atlas V Heavy", and to "resolve the RD-180 issue, including coproduction, stockpile, or U.S. development of an RD-180 replacement".
In 2010, ULA stated that the Atlas V Heavy configuration could be available to customers 30 months from the date of order.
In the mid-2000s, the Atlas V program gained access to the tooling and processes for 5-meter-diameter stages used on Delta IV when Boeing and Lockheed Martin space operations were merged into the United Launch Alliance. This led to a proposal to combine the 5 meter diameter Delta IV tankage production processes with dual RD-180 engines, resulting in the Atlas Phase 2.
An Atlas V PH2-Heavy consisting of three 5 m stages in parallel with six RD-180s was considered in the Augustine Report as a possible heavy lifter for use in future space missions, as well as the Shuttle-derived Ares V and Ares V Lite. If built, the Atlas PH2-Heavy was projected to be able to launch a payload mass of approximately 70 metric tons into an orbit of 28.5° inclination. Neither of the Atlas V Phase 2 proposals progressed to development work.
The Atlas V Common Core Booster was to have been used as the first stage of the joint US-Japanese GX rocket, which was scheduled to make its first flight in 2012. GX launches would have been from the Atlas V launch complex at Vandenberg AFB, SLC-3E. However, the Japanese government decided to cancel the GX project in December 2009.
In 2017, a consortium of companies, including Aerojet and Dynetics, sought to license the production or manufacturing rights to the Atlas V using the AR1 engine in place of the RD-180. The proposal was rejected by ULA.
|Flight No.||Date and time(UTC)||Type||Serial no.||Launch site||Payload||Type of payload||Orbit||Outcome||Remarks|
|1||August 21, 2002
|401||AV-001||CCAFS SLC-41||Hot Bird 6||Commercial communications satellite (comsat)||GTO||Success||First Atlas V launch|
|2||May 13, 2003
|401||AV-002||CCAFS SLC-41||Hellas Sat 2||Commercial comsat||GTO||Success||First satellite for Greece and Cyprus|
|3||July 17, 2003
|521||AV-003||CCAFS SLC-41||Rainbow 1||Commercial comsat||GTO||Success||First Atlas V 500 launch|
First Atlas V launch with SRBs
|4||December 17, 2004
|521||AV-005||CCAFS SLC-41||AMC 16||Commercial comsat||GTO||Success|
|5||March 11, 2005
|431||AV-004||CCAFS SLC-41||Inmarsat 4-F1||Commercial comsat||GTO||Success||First Atlas V 400 launch with SRBs|
|6||August 12, 2005
|401||AV-007||CCAFS SLC-41||Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter||Mars orbiter||Heliocentric to
|Success||First Atlas V launch for NASA|
|7||January 19, 2006
|551||AV-010||CCAFS SLC-41||New Horizons||Pluto and Kuiper Belt probe||Hyperbolic||Success||Boeing Star 48B third stage used, first Atlas V launch with a third stage|
|8||April 20, 2006
|411||AV-008||CCAFS SLC-41||Astra 1KR||Commercial comsat||GTO||Success|
|9||March 9, 2007
|401||AV-013||CCAFS SLC-41||Space Test Program-1||6 military research satellites||LEO||Success|
|10||June 15, 2007
|401||AV-009||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-194 (NRO L-30/NOSS-4-3A & B)||Two NRO Reconnaissance satellites||LEO||Partial failure||First Atlas V flight for the National Reconnaissance Office Atlas did not achieve the intended orbit, but payload compensated for shortfall. Customer declared success.|
|11||October 11, 2007
|421||AV-011||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-195 (WGS SV-1)||Military comsat||GTO||Success||Valve replacement delayed launch|
|12||December 10, 2007
|401||AV-015||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-198 (NRO L-24)||NRO reconnaissance satellite||Molniya||Success|
|13||March 13, 2008
|411||AV-006||VAFB SLC-3E||USA-200 (NRO L-28)||NRO reconnaissance satellite||Molniya||Success||First Atlas V launch from Vandenberg|
|14||April 14, 2008
|421||AV-014||CCAFS SLC-41||ICO G1||Commercial comsat||GTO||Success|
|15||April 4, 2009
|421||AV-016||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-204 (WGS SV2)||Military comsat||GTO||Success|
|16||June 18, 2009
|401||AV-020||CCAFS SLC-41||LRO/LCROSS||Lunar exploration||HEO to Lunar||Success||First Centaur stage to impact on the Moon.|
|17||September 8, 2009
|401||AV-018||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-207 (PAN)||Military comsat||GTO||Success||The Centaur upper stage fragmented in orbit about 24 March 2019|
|18||October 18, 2009
|401||AV-017||VAFB SLC-3E||USA-210 (DMSP 5D3-F18)||Military weather satellite||LEO||Success|
|19||November 23, 2009
|431||AV-024||CCAFS SLC-41||Intelsat 14||Commercial comsat||GTO||Success||LMCLS launch|
|20||February 11, 2010
|401||AV-021||CCAFS SLC-41||SDO||Solar telescope||GTO||Success|
|21||April 22, 2010
|501||AV-012||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-212 (X-37B OTV-1)||Military orbital test vehicle||LEO||Success||A piece of the external fairing did not break up on impact, but washed up on Hilton Head Island.|
|22||August 14, 2010
|531||AV-019||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-214 (AEHF-1)||Military comsat||GTO||Success|
|23||September 21, 2010
|501||AV-025||VAFB SLC-3E||USA-215 (NRO L-41)||NRO reconnaissance satellite||LEO||Success|
|24||March 5, 2011
|501||AV-026||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-226 (X-37B OTV-2)||Military orbital test vehicle||LEO||Success|
|25||April 15, 2011
|411||AV-027||VAFB SLC-3E||USA-229 (NRO L-34)||NRO reconnaissance satellite||LEO||Success|
|26||May 7, 2011
|401||AV-022||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-230 (SBIRS-GEO-1)||Missile Warning satellite||GTO||Success|
|27||August 5, 2011
|551||AV-029||CCAFS SLC-41||Juno||Jupiter orbiter||Hyperbolic to
|28||November 26, 2011
|541||AV-028||CCAFS SLC-41||Mars Science Laboratory||Mars rover||Hyperbolic
|Success||First launch of the 541 configuation|
Centaur entered orbit around the sun
|29||February 24, 2012
|551||AV-030||CCAFS SLC-41||MUOS-1||Military comsat||GTO||Success||
|30||May 4, 2012
|531||AV-031||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-235 (AEHF-2)||Military comsat||GTO||Success|
|31||June 20, 2012
|401||AV-023||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-236 (NROL-38)||NRO reconnaissance satellite||GTO||Success||50th EELV launch|
|32||August 30, 2012
|401||AV-032||CCAFS SLC-41||Van Allen Probes (RBSP)||Van Allen Belts exploration||HEO||Success|
|33||September 13, 2012
|401||AV-033||VAFB SLC-3E||USA-238 (NROL-36)||NRO reconnaissance satellites||LEO||Success|
|34||December 11, 2012
|501||AV-034||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-240 (X-37B OTV-3)||Military orbital test vehicle||LEO||Success|
|35||January 31, 2013
|401||AV-036||CCAFS SLC-41||TDRS-K (TDRS-11)||Data relay satellite||GTO||Success|
|36||February 11, 2013
|401||AV-035||VAFB SLC-3E||Landsat 8||Earth Observation satellite||LEO||Success||First West Coast Atlas V Launch for NASA|
|37||March 19, 2013
|401||AV-037||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-241 (SBIRS-GEO 2)||Missile Warning satellite||GTO||Success|
|38||May 15, 2013
|401||AV-039||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-242 (GPS IIF-4)||Navigation satellite||MEO||Success||
|39||July 19, 2013
|551||AV-040||CCAFS SLC-41||MUOS-2||Military comsat||GTO||Success|
|40||September 18, 2013
|531||AV-041||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-246 (AEHF-3)||Military comsat||GTO||Success|
|41||November 18, 2013
|401||AV-038||CCAFS SLC-41||MAVEN||Mars orbiter||Hyperbolic to
|42||December 6, 2013
|501||AV-042||VAFB SLC-3E||USA-247 (NROL-39)||NRO reconnaissance satellite||LEO||Success|
|43||January 24, 2014
|401||AV-043||CCAFS SLC-41||TDRS-L (TDRS-12)||Data relay satellite||GTO||Success|
|44||April 3, 2014
|401||AV-044||VAFB SLC-3E||USA-249 (DMSP-5D3 F19)||Military weather satellite||LEO||Success||50th RD-180 launch|
|45||April 10, 2014
|541||AV-045||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-250 (NROL-67)||NRO reconnaissance satellite||GTO||Success|
|46||May 22, 2014
|401||AV-046||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-252 (NROL-33)||NRO reconnaissance satellite||GTO||Success|
|47||August 2, 2014
|401||AV-048||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-256 (GPS IIF-7)||Navigation satellite||MEO||Success|
|48||August 13, 2014
|401||AV-047||VAFB SLC-3E||WorldView-3||Earth imaging satellite||LEO||Success|
|49||September 17, 2014
|401||AV-049||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-257 (CLIO)||Military comsat||GTO||Success||The Centaur upper stage fragmented on 31 August 2018|
|50||October 29, 2014
|401||AV-050||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-258 (GPS IIF-8)||Navigation satellite||MEO||Success||50th Atlas V launch|
|51||December 13, 2014
|541||AV-051||VAFB SLC-3E||USA-259 (NROL-35)||NRO reconnaissance satellite||Molniya||Success||First use of the RL-10C engine on the Centaur stage|
|52||January 21, 2015
|551||AV-052||CCAFS SLC-41||MUOS-3||Military comsat||GTO||Success|
|53||March 13, 2015
|421||AV-053||CCAFS SLC-41||MMS||Magnetosphere research satellites||HEO||Success|
|54||May 20, 2015
|501||AV-054||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-261 (X-37B OTV-4/AFSPC-5)||Military orbital test vehicle||LEO||Success|
|55||July 15, 2015
|401||AV-055||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-262 (GPS IIF-10)||Navigation satellite||MEO||Success|
|56||September 2, 2015
|551||AV-056||CCAFS SLC-41||MUOS-4||Military comsat||GTO||Success|
|57||October 2, 2015
|58||October 8, 2015
|401||AV-058||VAFB SLC-3E||USA-264 (NROL-55)||NRO reconnaissance satellites||LEO||Success|
|59||October 31, 2015
|401||AV-060||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-265 (GPS IIF-11)||Navigation satellite||MEO||Success|
|60||December 6, 2015
|401||AV-061||CCAFS SLC-41||Cygnus CRS OA-4||ISS logistics spacecraft||LEO||Success||First Atlas rocket used to directly support the ISS program|
|61||February 5, 2016
|401||AV-057||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-266 (GPS IIF-12)||Navigation satellite||MEO||Success|
|62||March 23, 2016
|401||AV-064||CCAFS SLC-41||Cygnus CRS OA-6||ISS logistics spacecraft||LEO||Success||First stage shut down early but did not affect mission outcome|
|63||June 24, 2016
|551||AV-063||CCAFS SLC-41||MUOS-5||Military comsat||GTO||Success|
|64||July 28, 2016
|421||AV-065||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-267 (NROL-61)||NRO reconnaissance satellite||GTO||Success|
|65||September 8, 2016
|411||AV-067||CCAFS SLC-41||OSIRIS-REx||Asteroid sample return||Heliocentric||Success|
|66||November 11, 2016
|401||AV-062||VAFB SLC-3E||WorldView-4 (GeoEye-2) + 7 NRO cubesats||Earth Imaging, cubesats||SSO||Success||LMCLS launch|
|67||November 19, 2016
|541||AV-069||CCAFS SLC-41||GOES-R (GOES-16)||Meteorology||GTO||Success||100th EELV launch|
|68||December 18, 2016
|431||AV-071||CCAFS SLC-41||EchoStar 19 (Jupiter 2)||Commercial comsat||GTO||Success||LMCLS launch|
|69||January 21, 2017
|401||AV-066||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-273 (SBIRS GEO-3)||Missile Warning satellite||GTO||Success|
|70||March 1, 2017
|401||AV-068||VAFB SLC-3E||USA-274 (NROL-79)||NRO Reconnaissance Satellite||LEO||Success|
|71||April 18, 2017
|401||AV-070||CCAFS SLC-41||Cygnus CRS OA-7||ISS logistics spacecraft||LEO||Success|
|72||August 18, 2017
|401||AV-074||CCAFS SLC-41||TDRS-M (TDRS-13)||Data relay satellite||GTO||Success|
|73||September 24, 2017
|541||AV-072||VAFB SLC-3E||USA-278 (NROL-42)||NRO Reconnaissance Satellite||Molniya||Success|
|74||October 15, 2017
|421||AV-075||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-279 (NROL-52)||NRO Reconnaissance satellite||GTO||Success|
|75||January 20, 2018
|411||AV-076||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-282 (SBIRS GEO-4)||Missile Warning satellite||GTO||Success|
|76||March 1, 2018
|541||AV-077||CCAFS SLC-41||GOES-S (GOES-17)||Meteorology||GTO||Success||Expended the 100th AJ-60 SRB|
|77||April 14, 2018
|551||AV-079||CCAFS SLC-41||AFSPC-11||Military comsat||GEO||Success|
|78||May 5, 2018
|401||AV-078||VAFB SLC-3E||InSight MarCO||Mars lander; 2 CubeSats||Hyperbolic
|Success||First interplanetary mission from VAFB; first interplanetary CubeSats.|
|79||October 17, 2018,
|551||AV-073||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-288 (AEHF-4)||Military comsat||GTO||Success||250th Centaur. The Centaur upper stage fragmented in orbit on 6 Apr 2019.|
|80||August 8, 2019,
|551||AV-083||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-292 (AEHF-5)||Military comsat||GTO||Success|
|81||December 20, 2019,
|N22||AV-080||CCAFS SLC-41||Starliner Boeing OFT||Uncrewed orbital test flight||Suborbital (Atlas V)||Success||First flight of a Dual-Engine Centaur on Atlas V. First orbital test flight of Starliner. Planned to visit ISS, but an anomaly with the Starliner vehicle left the spacecraft in too low an orbit to do so. The Atlas V rocket performed as expected and thus the mission is listed as successful here.|
|82||February 10, 2020,
|411||AV-087||CCAFS SLC-41||Solar Orbiter||Solar heliophysics orbiter||Heliocentric||Success|
|83||March 26, 2020,
|551||AV-086||CCAFS SLC-41||AEHF-6||Military comsat||GTO||Success||First ever flight for the U.S. Space Force. 500th flight of the RL10 engine|
|84||May 17, 2020,
|501||AV-081||CCAFS SLC-41||USA-299 (USSF-7 (X-37B OTV-6, Falcon-Sat-8))||X-37 military spaceplane; USAFA sat.||LEO||Success||Sixth flight of X-37B; FalconSat-8|
For planned launches, see List of Atlas launches (2020–2029).
The first payload, the Hot Bird 6 communications satellite, was launched to geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) on 21 August 2002 by an Atlas V 401.
On 12 August 2005, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched aboard an Atlas V 401 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The Centaur upper stage of the rocket completed its burns over a 56-minute period and placed MRO into an interplanetary transfer orbit towards Mars
On 19 January 2006, New Horizons was launched by a Lockheed Martin Atlas V 551 rocket. A third stage was added to increase the heliocentric (escape) speed. This was the first launch of the Atlas V 551 configuration with five solid rocket boosters, and the first Atlas V with a third stage.
On 8 September 2016, the OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission was launched on an Atlas V 411 rocket. It was scheduled to arrive at the asteroid Bennu in 2018 and return with a sample ranging from 60 grams to 2 kilograms in 2023.
The first four Boeing X-37B spaceplane missions were successfully launched with the Atlas V. The X-37B, also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), is a reusable robotic spacecraft operated by USAF that can autonomously conduct landings from orbit to a runway. The first four X-37B flights were launched on Atlas V's from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida with subsequent landings taking place on the Space Shuttle 15,000-foot (4,600 m) runway located at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
On 20 December 2019, the first Starliner crew capsule was launched in Boe-OFT uncrewed test flight. The Atlas V carrier rocket performed flawlessly but an anomaly with the spacecraft left it in a wrong orbit. The orbit was too low to reach the flight's destination of ISS, and the mission was subsequently cut short.
In its 82 launches (as of February 2020), starting with its first launch in August 2002, Atlas V has had an almost perfect mission success rate. This is in contrast to the industry failure rate of 5–10%. However, there have been two anomalous flights that – while still successful in their mission – prompted a grounding of the Atlas fleet while investigations determined the root cause of their problems.
The first anomalous event in the use of the Atlas V launch system occurred on June 15, 2007, when the engine in the Centaur upper stage of an Atlas V shut down early, leaving its payload – a pair of NRO L-30 ocean surveillance satellites – in a lower than intended orbit. The cause of the anomaly was traced to a leaky valve, which allowed fuel to leak during the coast between the first and second burns. The resulting lack of fuel caused the second burn to terminate 4 seconds early. Replacing the valve led to a delay in the next Atlas V launch. However, the customer (the National Reconnaissance Office) categorized the mission as a success.
A flight on March 23, 2016, suffered an underperformance anomaly on the first-stage burn and shut down 5 seconds early. The Centaur proceeded to boost the Orbital Cygnus payload, the heaviest on an Atlas to date, into the intended orbit by utilizing its fuel reserves to make up for the shortfall from the first stage. This longer burn cut short a later Centaur disposal burn. An investigation of the incident revealed that this anomaly was due to a fault in the main engine mixture-ratio supply valve, which restricted the flow of fuel to the engine. The investigation and subsequent examination of the valves on upcoming missions led to a delay of the next several launches.
In 2014, geopolitical and US political considerations led to an effort to replace the Russian-supplied RD-180 engine used on the first-stage booster of the Atlas V. Formal study contracts were issued in June 2014 to a number of US rocket-engine suppliers. The results of those studies have led a decision by ULA to develop the new Vulcan launch vehicle to replace the existing Atlas V and Delta IV.
In September 2014, ULA announced a partnership with Blue Origin to develop the BE-4 LOX/methane engine to replace the RD-180 on a new first-stage booster. As the Atlas V core is designed around RP-1 fuel and cannot be retrofitted to use a methane-fueled engine, a new first stage is being developed. This booster will have the same first-stage tankage diameter as the Delta IV and will be powered by two 2,400-kilonewton (550,000 lbf) thrust BE-4 engines. The engine was already in its third year of development by Blue Origin, and ULA expected the new stage and engine to start flying no earlier than 2019.
Vulcan will initially use the same Centaur upper stage as on Atlas V, later to be upgraded to ACES. It will also use a variable number of optional solid rocket boosters, called the GEM 63XL, derived from the new solid boosters planned for Atlas V.
As of January 2020[update], no replacement was expected before mid-2021.
Core stage of an Atlas V being raised to a vertical position
X-37B OTV-1 (Orbital Test Vehicle) being encased in its payload fairing for its April 22, 2010, launch
An Atlas V 541 is moved to the launch pad
Atlas V 401 on launch pad
Atlas V ignition
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