by Staff Writers
Cape Canaveral AFS FL (SPX) Aug 08, 2011
The U.S. Air Force's 45th Space Wing provided flawless Eastern Range support for the successful launch of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA's Juno spacecraft Friday. The launch occurred at Friday Aug 5 at 12:25 p.m. (EDT) from Space Launch Complex 41.
A combined team of military, government civilians and contractors from across the 45th Space Wing provided vital support to the Juno launch, including weather forecasts, launch and range operations, safety and public affairs.
The wing also provided its vast network of radar, telemetry, optical and communications instrumentation to facilitate a safe launch on the Eastern Range. Built by Lockheed Martin, Juno will investigate Jupiter's formation, evolution and structure from an elliptical orbit.
The Atlas V rocket flew in the 551 vehicle configuration with a five-meter fairing, five solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage.
"As always, the 45th Space Wing is pleased to have supported NASA on another successful and safe launch," said Brig. Gen. Ed Wilson, commander, 45th Space Wing.
Aerojet Solid Rocket Boosters Help Launch Juno Mission
Launching in a 551 configuration, Aerojet provided 1.9 million lbs. of liftoff thrust from five solid rocket boosters (SRBs), eight retro-rockets for the Centaur separation from the Atlas common core booster, 12 reaction control thrusters for the Centaur upper stage as well as 12 monopropellant hydrazine Rocket Engine Assemblies (REAs) fixed to the Juno spacecraft.
Aerojet's SRBs on the Atlas V vehicle are 67-feet long and provide a liftoff thrust of 380,000 lbs. each. Aerojet SRBs have flown in previous vehicle configurations using one, two, three and five boosters. This was the 13th successful Atlas V launch with Aerojet SRBs.
Eight Aerojet retro rockets assisted with the Atlas Centaur separation from the launch vehicle. In addition, 12 monopropellant hydrazine REAs will provide attitude control for the Juno spacecraft throughout its journey and insertion into Jupiter's orbit slated for July 2016.
Twelve Aerojet monopropellant (hydrazine) thrusters on the Atlas V Centaur upper stage provided roll, pitch and yaw control as well as settling burns for the upper stage main engine. All Atlas launches since the late 1980s have included Aerojet monopropellant reaction control thrusters on the Centaur upper stage.
The objective of NASA's Jupiter bound mission is to create an understanding of the formation, evolution and structure of Jupiter. Juno will arrive at Jupiter in 2016 for a one-year mission comprising 33 orbits. It will carry a color camera and return the first-ever images of Jupiter's poles. This launch marks NASA's second spacecraft designed under the New Frontiers Program.
"The successful launch of the Juno spacecraft is a tremendous achievement for the nation and Aerojet is proud of our key role in both the launch and space vehicles," said Vice President of Space and Launch Systems, Julie Van Kleeck. "The success of these propulsion systems continues our tradition of 100 percent mission success for NASA's space and planetary missions."
Aerojet is under contract with ULA for the SRBs and REAs for the Atlas V program. The company developed, produced and tested the SRBs in California, using technology derived from its extensive experience producing solid rocket motors for Peacekeeper and Small ICBM missile systems.
Aerojet's Redmond, Wash. team manufactured the Centaur upper stage reaction control thrusters for ULA and the monopropellant hydrazine REAs under contract from Lockheed Martin for the Juno spacecraft.
Rocketdyne Engine Powers Juno Aloft
The Atlas V is powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 booster engine and the Centaur upper stage is powered by the Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne RL10 engine. Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) company. RD AMROSS LLC is a joint venture of Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne and NPO Energomash.
"Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne is honored to provide NASA with the propulsion required to launch this important satellite on its deep-space mission to study the planet," said Jim Maus, director, hypersonic and expendable propulsion programs, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne. "With nearly 50 years of flight, the RL10 continues to prove itself as the nation's most reliable upper-stage engine. We're pleased to see it continue that legacy."
"RD AMROSS congratulates NASA and the United Launch Alliance on another successful launch," said William Parsons, president and CEO of RD AMROSS. "We look forward to working together on future missions."
The five-year mission to Jupiter is designed to give scientists a better understanding of our solar system by revealing the origin and evolution of the planet. Juno will orbit Jupiter for about one year, studying its atmosphere to measure composition, temperature, cloud motions and other properties.
The spacecraft will also map the planet's magnetic and gravity fields, and explore its poles to gain insight into the planet's enormous magnetic force field on its atmosphere.
In addition to manufacturing the RD-180 and the RL10, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne is also developing the J-2X engine to power NASA's next era of human spaceflight. The engine is being tested under a development contract awarded by NASA and is designed to power the upper stage of a heavy-lift launch vehicle in anticipation of NASA's next era of human spaceflight.
ULA Launches Juno Spacecraft on Five-Year Journey to Study Jupiter
"Congratulations to the entire team for successfully launching Juno on its five-year interplanetary journey to Jupiter," said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Mission Operations. "The ULA team is very proud to serve a critical role in delivering one-of-a-kind NASA payloads in support of the global science community and we look forward to the scientific discoveries from the Juno mission."
The launch of the Juno mission marks the second of five NASA missions scheduled to launch this year on ULA vehicles within a six month timeframe.
"This six-month launch campaign for NASA is unprecedented not only for its reach across our solar system, but also for the tempo and precision required together with our NASA Launch Services Program customer and their mission customers in order to achieve successful execution," said Sponnick.
This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V 551 vehicle configuration, which includes a 5-meter diameter RUAG Space payload fairing.
The booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine along with five Aerojet solid rocket motors. The Centaur upper stage was powered by a single Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne RL-10A engine.
Juno will improve our understanding of our solar system's beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution of Jupiter. After a five-year journey, Juno will spend a year and 33 orbits studying many scientific aspects of the largest planet in our solar system.
Specifically, Juno will determine how much water is in the atmosphere, measure composition, temperature and cloud motions, map the magnetic and gravity fields, as well as explore and study Jupiter's magnetosphere.
ULA's next launch is the Delta II GRAIL mission for NASA currently scheduled for Sept. 8, 2011 from Space Launch Complex-17 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Following the GRAIL launch, ULA is scheduled to launch another Delta II in October with an advanced weather satellite and then an Atlas V in November with the Mars Science Laboratory, both for NASA.
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