Atlas V

Atlas V

The Atlas V is the latest member of the Atlas family. The original Atlas was a product of Convair, a subdivision of General Dynamics. The aerospace portion of Convair was spun off to Martin Marietta in 1994. Martin Marietta later merged with Lockheed Corporation to found Lockheed Martin. Atlas became a product of the United Launch Alliance (a partnership between Lockheed Martin and Boeing) in 2006.

Altas V with Starliner (74.1 kb)
Atlas V mated to Starliner (© ULA) (click to enlarge)

The Atlas V has many uses and is available in multiple configurations. What is referenced on this page concerns the configuration used for launching the Boeing Starliner.

Atlas V Cutaway (82.7 kb) 1.  CST-100 Starliner
2.  Centaur Forward Adapter
3.  Launch Vehicle Adapter
4.  Aeroskirt
5.  Centaur
6.  Centaur Fuel (LH2) Tank
7.  Common Bulkhead
8.  Centaur Oxidiser (LO2) Tank
9.  Centaur Dual Engines (RL10)
10. Interstage Adapter
11. Booster Oxidixzer (LO2) Tank
12. Common Core Booster
13. Isogrid Structure
14. Nose Cone
15. Solid Rocket Booster
16. Booster Fuel (RP-1) Tank
17. Booster Oxidizer (LO2) Feedline
18. Solid Rocket Propellant
19 Booster Engine (RD-180)
20. Solid Rocket Booster Nozzle
Cutaway of Atlas V with Starliner (© ULA)
** The Centaur upper stage is 3.1 m (10 ft) in diameter and 12.7 m (41.6 ft) long. Its propellant tanks are pressure-stabilized, constructed of corrosion-resistant stainless steel. Centaur is a liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen-fueled vehicle. Its standard configuration uses a single RL10C-1 engine producing 101.8 kN (22,890 lbf) of thrust; however the Centaur used for Commercial Crew will reconstitute the dual RL10A-4-2 engine configuration that historically flew on the Atlas II and Atlas III launch vehicles. The dual-engine Centaur provides 198.4 kN (44,600 lbf) of thrust to deliver the CST-100 spacecraft to orbit and allows trajectory shaping to limit crew loading on ascent. The cryogenic tanks are insulated with a combination of helium-purged insulation blankets, radiation shields, and closed-cell foam insulation. The Centaur forward adapter (CFA) provides the structural mountings for vehicle electronics and the structural and electronic interfaces with CST-100 Starliner.

The Atlas V common core booster (CCB) is 3.8 m (12.5 ft) in diameter and 32.5 m (106.5 ft) long. The booster’s tanks are structurally stable and constructed of isogrid aluminum barrels, spun-formed aluminum domes and intertank skirts. Atlas V booster propulsion is provided by the RD-180 engine system (a single engine with two thrust chambers). The RD-180 burns RP-1 (Rocket Propellant-1 or highly purified kerosene) and liquid oxygen, delivering 3,827 kN (860,300 lbf) of thrust at sea level. The Atlas V vehicle is controlled by an avionics system that provides guidance, flight control and vehicle sequencing functions during the booster and Centaur phases of flight.

Two solid rocket boosters (SRBs) provide 3,100 kN (697,000 lbf) of additional thrust required at liftoff. With a diameter of 158 cm (62.2 in) and a length of 20 m (65.6 ft), the SRBs are constructed of a continuous graphite-epoxy composite casing with the throttle profile designed into the propellant grain. The SRBs are jettisoned by thrusters following a burn lasting approximately a minute and a half.

The vehicle’s height with the Boeing CST-100 Starliner is approximately 52.4 m (172 ft).

** The preceding was taken directly from liturature published and copyrighted by United Launch Alliance (ULA).


Starliner launches:
    - Boeing Orbital Flight Test