Press Release

United Launch Alliance Atlas V Awarded Two NASA Missions

By SpaceRef Editor
October 9, 2007
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United Launch Alliance was awarded launch services contracts Oct. 3 for two future NASA space exploration missions, Landsat and Juno, scheduled to launch in 2011 aboard Atlas V rockets. Landsat will launch from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and Juno from SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

Under the terms of the contract, ULA is responsible for conducting vehicle integration and payload processing along with launch services.

“United Launch Alliance has a long history of close partnership with NASA to provide reliable launch services for many important scientific missions,” said Jim Sponnick, vice president, Atlas Program. “The ULA Atlas team is excited to be launching two new missions that will enhance our understanding of the Earth and, through study of Jupiter, our Solar System.”

The Atlas V uses a structurally stable Common Core Booster powered by the RD-180 engine, which can be throttled up or down as the flight requires. The booster has provisions for the addition of up to five strap-on solid rocket boosters (SRBs). The Centaur upper stage, powered by either single or dual RL10 engines, is used with all configurations. The vehicle can also be fitted with a smaller, 4-meter diameter payload fairing, or a larger 5-meter fairing in a range of heights.

The Landsat Data Continuity Mission, scheduled to fly aboard an Atlas V 401 configuration vehicle (4-meter fairing; no strap-on SRBs), is the future of Landsat satellites. It will continue scientists’ ability to obtain valuable data and imagery to be used in agriculture, education, business, science and government. The Landsat program provides repetitive acquisition of high resolution multispectral data of the Earth’s surface on a global basis.

NASA’s Juno mission, scheduled to fly aboard an Atlas V 551 configuration vehicle, will explore Jupiter with the goal of understanding the planet’s origin and evolution. As the prototype of giant planets, Jupiter could provide the knowledge needed to understand the origin of our solar system and the planetary systems being discovered around other stars. The 551, the most powerful of the Atlas configurations with the 5-meter payload fairing and 5 strap-on solid rocket boosters, was the configuration that launched NASA’s Pluto New Horizons mission in 2006.

ULA’s next launch, currently scheduled for Oct. 10, will launch aboard an Atlas V 421 as it carries the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite for the U.S. Air Force from SLC-41 at CCAFS. The launch window is 8:22-9:33 p.m. EDT. ULA program management, engineering, test and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colo. Manufacturing, assembly, and integration operations are located at Decatur, AL; Denver, CO; Harlingen, TX; and San Diego, CA. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA.

For more information on the ULA joint venture, visit the ULA website at, or call the ULA Launch Hotline at 1-877-ULA-4321 (852-4321).

SpaceRef staff editor.