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Atlas (U)

Overview (U):

(U) Atlas is a family of medium-lift launch vehicles with two variants, Atlas IIA and the Atlas IIAS. The Atlas is a liquid fueled booster. The Atlas IIAS has four solid strap-on boosters for increased payload capacity. With the completion of the Atlas I, only the Atlas II series are being launched. Currently, all Atlas vehicles are launched from SLC36-A/B at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL. Future plans will launch the Atlas IIAS from SLC-3E at Vandenberg AFB, CA. The Atlas II has a typical launch processing time of 40 days.

Description (U):

(U) The Air Force Atlas II medium spacelift system currently launches medium class DoD payloads. To date, Atlas II has successfully orbited six DSCS III satellites, with two more to follow.

(U) Atlas II is a member of the Atlas family of launch vehicles, which evolved from the successful Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile program (ICBM). It is designed to launch payloads into low earth orbit, geosynchronous transfer orbit or geosynchronous orbit. Atlas IIA is a two-and-a-half stage vehicle, primarily used by the Air Force to support the Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) III program. The Atlas II vehicles are also frequently flown for commercial customers. The Atlas II series uses an improved Centaur upper stage, the world's first high-energy propellant stage, to increase its payload capability. Atlas II also has lower-cost electronics, an improved flight computer and longer propellant tanks than its predecessor, Atlas I, which was developed for commercial users as a result of launch failures in the late 1980s. Atlas II also provides higher performance than Atlas I by using engines with greater thrust and longer fuel tanks for both stages. Atlas propulsion is provided by a Rocketdyne liquid rocket engine set, which consists of two booster engines and one sustainer engine. All three engines provide 494,500 pounds of thrust. Centaur propulsion is provided by a Pratt and Whitney liquid rocket engine set consisting of 2 engines that provide 41,000 pounds of thrust. The total 490,000 pound thrust capability of the Atlas II enables the booster to lift payloads of 6,100 pounds in geosynchronous orbit (22,000 miles-plus). The primary differences from the Atlas II is that it has an upgraded second stage rocket engine provided by Pratt and Whitney and upgraded avionics over the previous Atlas II flown for DSCS III satellites. The first Air Force Atlas II was launched February 10, 1992.

(U) Atlas IIAS - This modification to the Atlas II vehicle includes the addition of four solid rocket motors to provide additional performance for DoD and commercial missions. The first commerical Atlas IIAS was luanched in Dec 93. The first Atlas IIAS mission for the DoD will be launched out of Cape Canaveral Air Station in FY00. Current plans provide for the potential launch of a total of six Atlas IIAS vehicles for DoD.

(U) SLC 3E modifications - The DoD (SAF/SL) is funding the modification of SLC 3E to upgrade the complex for the Atlas II family (IIA and IIAS). The modified launch pad IOC was achieved in Sep 97. This is a major modification and will provide Atlas II launch capability from VAFB for the first time. Pathfinder activities are currently underway to validate launch pad and launch vehicle interfaces. The first launch will be of a NASA satellite in FY99.

User Impact (U):

(U) Provides medium-lift capability to launch surveillance, communications, and exploratory satellites which support commercial, DoD and national requirements.

Programmatics (U):

(U) Operational.

Images (U):

AtlasAtlas II Centaur Launch Vehicle
This Table Is Unclassified.

Related Initiatives (U):
Arnold Engineer Dev Cntr (AEDC)Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC)
DSCS IIIDefense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) III
DSCS Service Life Enhance ProgDefense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) Service Life Enhancement Program (SLEP)
Eastern RangeEastern Range
FLTSATCOMFleet Satellite Communications (FLTSATCOM)
GEOSATGeodetic/Geophysical Satellite (GEOSAT)
GOESGeostationary Operational Earth Satellite (GOES)
POESPolar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES)
SBIRS HighSpace Based Infrared System (SBIRS) High
UHF Follow-on (UFO)Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Follow-on (UFO)
Western RangeWestern Range
This Table Is Unclassified.

Related Requirements (U):None.

Related Categories (U):
LaunchDoD Space Launch Programs
Launch VehiclesLaunch Vehicles
This Table Is Unclassified.

Road Map Placements (U):

Major DoD Space ProgramsEvolution of the Selected Space Programs
National Security Space Road MapIntegrated System Road Map
This Table Is Unclassified.

Requirements, Funding and Additional Hotlinks (U):

Launch Vehicles-NASA History
SMC Launch Home Page
Sattelite Control ORD (95)
SMC-Fact Sheets
This Table Is Unclassified.

Lead Office (U):

(U) Air Force.

(U) DoD: USD(A&T) and OASD(C3I), Pentagon, Washington, DC
(U) Service Staff: SAF/AQS, Pentagon, Washington, DC
(U) Major Command: AFMC/SMC, Los Angeles AFB, CA
(U) Program Management: AFPEO/Space, Pentagon, Washington, DC

Point of Contact (U):

(U) Lt Col John Wagner, SMC, Open Phone: DSN 833-3952.

Date Of Information (U):

(U) 04 November 1997

(U) Road Map Production Date: 12 July 1999

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