LOCKHEED MARTIN BUILDS FIRST "STRETCHED" CENTAUR FOR NEXT-GENERATION ATLAS
SAN DIEGO, CA, November 30th, 1999 -- In a ceremony today featuring its new stretched Common Centaur upper stage, Lockheed Martin Astronautics displayed the first built of its larger Centaur tanks that will fly atop the company's Atlas IIIB and Atlas V next-generation rockets. The first Atlas IIIB, designated AC-204, will be ready for launch in September 2000 and the Atlas V will be flight-ready in late 2001. Lockheed Martin developed its new, more powerful Atlas V launch vehicles to meet the needs of the U.S. Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program and the growing needs of commercial and government satellite customers worldwide. "Today marks another significant milestone in the Atlas III and Atlas V programs for our customers and for Lockheed Martin," said G. Thomas Marsh, president of Lockheed Martin Astronautics. "The first stretched Centaur has been built and it will be ready to fly next year on an Atlas IIIB. Production of our new, more powerful Atlas rocket systems is already underway and we will be ready to support our Air Force and commercial satellite customers with launches next year," added Marsh.
The longer Centaur tank design is based on the company's successful Centaur cryogenic upper stage, flight proven through 140 missions over a period of more than 30 years of launching satellites into space. With its increased length, the Common Centaur will provide greater performance capability to lift heavier satellites and multiple-satellite constellations.
The Common Centaur tank design is 5.5 feet (1.7 meters) longer than the Centaur currently used on Atlas IIA and IIAS rockets. With one of the industry's longest running mission success strings, Atlas/Centaur rockets have flown a total of 45 consecutive successful missions - a string that began back in 1993.
The new Common Centaur, at 38.5 feet (11.68 meters) in length, will be able to carry more fuel, thereby allowing for longer duration engine burns and increased performance to boost satellites to a variety of orbits to meet satellite customer needs. The Common Centaur tank will first be used on the Atlas IIIB and will then be the Centaur that flies atop the 400, 500, and HLV series of Atlas V rockets.
To find out more about Lockheed Martin's Atlas III and Atlas V launch systems tap into our web site at http://www.ast.lmco.com. The web site features updates, images and videos of Atlas development and production milestones, Lockheed Martin's East and West Coast launch sites, and the latest performance capabilities of Lockheed Martin launch vehicles. You can also find information about Atlas and Proton launch systems at International Launch Services' web site at http://www.ilslaunch.com. International Launch Services markets the Atlas, Proton and Angara launch systems to commercial and government customers worldwide.
Astronautics is an operating unit of Lockheed Martin's Space Systems headquartered in Bethesda, Md. Astronautics designs, develops, tests and manufactures a variety of advanced technology systems for space and defense. Chief products include interplanetary spacecraft and other space systems, space launch systems and ground systems.