Press Release

Atlas V Team Begins Launch Preparations for AV-003

By SpaceRef Editor
May 29, 2003
Filed under ,

Lockheed Martin’s Atlas team has begun preparing the next Atlas V rocket for
its scheduled launch of the Rainbow satellite in July. AV-003 is
distinguished visually by a 5-meter diameter payload fairing, which encloses
the satellite, and two Aerojet strap-on solid rocket boosters (SRBs) to
augment liftoff thrust and vehicle performance.

AV-003 completed the initial steps toward launch with booster-on-stand
(BOS) activity May 21, during which the launch team erected the Atlas booster
in the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF). Booster on stand was followed by
attachment of the two SRBs May 23-24. The vehicle had already completed
initial power-on testing in the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center (ASOC)
while launch operations were underway for AV-002, which successfully launched
the Hellas-Sat satellite May 13.

“Days after launching AV-002 we were ready to put the next Atlas V on the
pad, which shows the flexibility of our launch facilities as well as our
ability to conduct simultaneous operations at the ASOC and the pad. With only
two launches under our belts, we have achieved our advertised flow,” said
Adrian Laffitte, Lockheed Martin’s director of Atlas programs at Cape

Another impressive milestone was achieved during the AV-002 mission. For
the first time in the U.S. launch industry, a space launch vehicle was rolled
out to the pad and launched within 12 hours. The launch team further
demonstrated the ability to quickly troubleshoot an issue during the first
day’s countdown, which required the vehicle to be rolled back to the Vertical
Integration Facility that afternoon. A monitoring unit on the vehicle was
replaced, and AV-002 was rolled out to the pad the next morning and launched
successfully within 12 hours.

“This is another remarkable demonstration of how talented and experienced
this launch team is and how efficient the Atlas V system has proven to be,”
added Laffitte.

The Atlas V AV-003 vehicle scheduled for launch in July will use two solid
rocket boosters built by Aerojet of Sacramento, Calif., each of which is 67
feet in length. As many as five solid rocket boosters can be used on the
Atlas V to meet mission performance requirements, with each SRB providing up
to approximately 400,000 pounds of thrust. Additionally, the 5-meter fairing,
a flight-proven design built by Contraves Space of Zurich, Switzerland, will
enclose the Centaur upper stage and the Rainbow satellite. Last December, a
practice countdown for AV-002 used a 5-meter fairing to validate the
interfaces with launch facilities at Complex 41. The payload fairing flight
hardware arrived at Cape Canaveral May 15 and is being processed for
encapsulation activities to support the scheduled launch in July.

The next processing milestone for AV-003 will be the launch countdown wet
dress rehearsal scheduled for June 23, which will be the final major test
prior to launch.

Lockheed Martin Space & Strategic Missiles is a business unit of Lockheed
Martin Space Systems Company. Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company is one of
the major operating units of Lockheed Martin Corporation. Space Systems
designs, develops, tests, manufactures and operates a variety of advanced
technology systems for military, civil and commercial customers. Chief
products include a full-range of space launch systems, including heavy-lift
capability, ground systems, remote sensing and communications satellites for
commercial and government customers, advanced space observatories and
interplanetary spacecraft, fleet ballistic missiles and missile defense

For more information about Lockheed Martin Space Systems, see our websites

CONTACT: Julie Andrews, +1-321-853-1567, or pager,
+1-800-722-7717, or, or Joan Underwood,
+1-303-971-7398, or pager, +1-800-745-8198, or, both
of Lockheed Martin.

SpaceRef staff editor.