Stacking of the Centaur upper stage to launch TDRS K. Credit: NASA-KSC

Atlas 5 comes together at record pace for NASA launch

Posted: January 27, 2013

Assembled for flight quicker than ever before, a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket is ready for blastoff this week to deploy NASA’s newest geosynchronous communications satellite to relay data from low-Earth-orbit spacecraft.

If all goes as planned, the 19-story rocket will thunder away from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Complex 41 pad on Wednesday at 8:48 p.m. EST (0148 GMT) after a record-setting launch campaign.

“When the Atlas 5 system first started launching over a decade ago, the time span from when the launch vehicle is first erected on the mobile launch platform to launch was typically 60-90 days,” said Jim Sponnick, United Launch Alliance’s vice president of mission operations.

Maturing of the system, operations team and processes have steadily sped up the campaigns, leading to this one lasting just 27 days. It eclipses the previous mark of 44 days.

Read more: Spaceflight Now | Atlas Launch Report | Atlas 5 comes together at record pace for NASA launch.

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