The famous Atlas rocket continues to show it’s ready to once again launch humans into space, following the completion of NASA’s Space Act Agreement (SAA) milestones. Although the Atlas V is still in a competition to launch US astronauts, this latest milestone “establishes a technical foundation for potentially certifying its Atlas V rocket” as a human-rated launch vehicle.
Atlas V Human Rating:
The Atlas V has an esteemed history, including launching astronauts during the early days of the space program. It was an Atlas booster that launched John Glenn into space inside Friendship 7 in 1962, sending the first American into orbit around the planet.
While its more recent history – as the Atlas V – has enjoyed a near-flawless record in lofting payloads that have included national security spacecraft uphill, its ambitions to once again launch biological cargo has only become a real possibility in the last few years.
Plans were afoot to provide Atlas V as the crew transport via an agreement between Lockheed Martin, SpaceDev and Bigelow Aerospace in 2006, at a time certain leaders at NASA embarrassingly claimed the rocket suffered from an Achilles’ heel relating to “Black Zones” – a key concern for safely aborting ...