EELV Hits Five-O with Atlas Launch

An Atlas V rocket rose into the bright Florida sky Wednesday morning, marking a milestone for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.

Atlas V rises from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral AFS on Wednesday, June 20. Photo courtesy of United Launch Alliance, LLC.

The successful liftoff from Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 41 at 8:28 a.m. EDT, June 20, was the 50th launch in the EELV program. In a cost-saving move, it was also the first EELV launch without the traditional “wet dress rehearsal,” so-called because it involves actually fueling the rocket in a practice of launch procedures.

“It was a very smooth countdown and flight with no significant issues,” said Aerospace Vice President Ray Johnson, head of Space Launch Operations, reporting from the Cape on Wednesday. “The Atlas team will continue to do a detailed data review because they need to do an impact assessment before we’re able to proceed to our next launch, which is scheduled for late next week.”

That launch is a Delta IV Heavy mission.

“I want to congratulate the entire Atlas team on this tremendous success today and look forward to our Delta mission next week,” Johnson said.

Eastern Range Aerospace employees monitor the Atlas V countdown on Wednesday, June 20. Left to right, Paul Utecht, David Bergin, and intern Scott Murphy.

The EELV program, which consists of the Atlas V and Delta IV launch vehicle families, was developed in the 1990s with considerable participation by Aerospace. The first EELV launch was on Aug. 21, 2002.