United Launch Alliance (ULA) will launch an Atlas V rocket on Saturday evening, carrying out the classified NROL-42 mission for the United States National Reconnaissance Office. Atlas – delayed two days via the requirement to changeout a battery on the booster – will lift off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base at 22:30 Pacific Time (05:30 UTC on Sunday).
Atlas V Launch:
Saturday’s launch – the fifth Atlas V launch of the year and the seventy-third overall for United Launch Alliance’s workhorse rocket – comes a little over a month after Atlas orbited NASA’s TDRS-M satellite and achieved its seventy-first launch success from seventy-two attempts.
First flown in August 2002, Atlas V was developed by Lockheed Martin under the US Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program, in competition with Boeing’s Delta IV.
The Air Force opted to fund two rockets in order to provide assured access to space should one fail. Since December 2006 both rockets, along with the older Delta II vehicle, have been constructed and operated by United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
As well as being used for military launches, Atlas V and to a lesser extent Delta IV ...