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  • Atlas is a family of US missiles and space launch vehicles that originated with the SM-65 Atlas.
  • Atlas was a liquid propellant rocket burning RP-1 fuel with liquid oxygen in three engines configured in an unusual “stage-and-a-half” or “parallel staging” design.
  • The Atlas was used as the expendable launch system with both the Agena and Centaur upper stages for the Mariner space probes used to explore Mercury, Venus, and Mars (1962–1973); and to launch ten of the Mercury program missions (1962–1963).
Description: Here's How to Watch an Atlas V Rocket Launch a US Military ...


  • The Atlas name was originally proposed by Karel Bossart and his design team working at Convair on project MX-1593.
  • The first successful test launch of an SM-65 Atlas missile was on 17 December 1957. Approximately 350 Atlas missiles were built.
Description: How The Atlas Rocket Evolved Over 60 Years - YouTube
Description: ULA selects launch pads for new Vulcan rocket – Spaceflight Now


Manufacturer    Convair

First flight          17 December 1957

Introduction      1957

Status                Atlas V (current)

Primary users   United States Air Force

                   National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Produced         –  19572010s (decade)

Variants       :

  • SM-65 Atlas
  •   SM-65D Atlas
  •   Atlas IIIA
  •  Atlas V
Description: atlas_V_schema


Stage 1:

  • At The Stage 1 Atlas V Rocket has fuel and oxygen tanks that feed an engine for the ascent; powers spacecraft into Earth orbit.
  • The Atlas V first stage is the common core booster.
  • This main booster is 107 feet (32.5 meters) long, with a diameter of 12.5 feet (3.8 meters). With the payload on board, the launch vehicle is 188 feet (57.3 meters).
  • Fully fueled, with the spacecraft on top, it weighs about 730,000 pounds (333,000 kilograms).
Description: illustration of InSight launch vehicle with rocket highlighted

Stage 2: Centaur

  • Atlas V-401 Launch Vehicle, Stage 2 Centaur: Fuel and oxidizer and the vehicle’s “brains”
  • The Centaur is 41.7 feet (12.7 meters) long and 10.2 feet (3.1 meters) in diameter.
  • It has a restartable RL-10C engine made by Aerojet Rocketdyne, Sacramento, California.
Description: Stage 2 Centaur - NASA Mars

Payload Fairing:

  • Atlas V-401 Launch Vehicle, Payload Fairing: The spacecraft will ride into the sky inside a protective payload fairing atop the Centaur stage.
  • The spacecraft rides into the sky inside a protective payload fairing atop the Centaur stage.
  • The fairing is 39.4 feet (12 meters) long, with a diameter of 13.8 feet (4.2 meters) at the widest part, tapering to the top of the cone.
Description: Illustration of InSight spacecraft with payload fairing highlighted

Main Engine:

  • Delivering more than 860,000 pounds of thrust at liftoff and an impressive range of continuous throttling capability, the RD-180 main engine is a powerful combination of innovation and performance.
  •  Designed and manufactured by NPO Energomash, the liquid oxygen/liquid kerosene, two-thrust-chamber.
  • This engine uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen and can provide up to about 22,890 pounds of thrust.
Description: 2017-An AR RL10 engine undergoes testing at NASA's test facility in West Palm Beach, Fla. The RL10 will be used as the basis for the upper stage engine for NASA's Orion, part of SLS.

Solid Rocket Boosters:

  • Aerojet Rocketdyne manufactures the AJ-60A strap-on solid rocket booster motors that are used to provide additional thrust at liftoff.
  • Up to five AJ-60A solid rocket booster motors may be added to the Atlas V depending on mission requirements.
Description: Asymmetrical Atlas V Launches - Kerbal Space Program - YouTube

Control Thrusters:

  • Twelve Aerojet Rocketdyne MR-106 Reaction Control System thrusters provide pitch, yaw and roll control for the Centaur upper stage, as well as settling burns.
Description: R-4D - Wikipedia

Pressure Vessels:

  • ARDÉ, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne based in New Jersey, manufactures the pressure vessels that support the first and second stages of the Atlas V launch vehicle.
Description: June 24, 2016 - Aerojet Rocketdyne Propulsion Supports Launch and Flight of U.S. Navy's Fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) Satellite. Credit: ULA


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Published by AERO-TECH 4U


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