Case Study Of The Atlas V Launch System

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This report, focusing on the Atlas V (spoken Atlas five) rocket, a launch system designed to send payloads into orbit of the Earth and beyond [2], will outline the following in specific detail:
• The original design mission of the Atlas V launch system
• The structural design and construction of the Atlas V launch system
• Unique aerodynamic features of the Atlas V launch system
• The propulsion systems contained within the stages of the Atlas V launch system
• The operation requirements of the Atlas V launch system
• The safety features and safety record of the Atlas V launch system
The Atlas V was chosen as the focus of this report for two specific reasons. Firstly, the combination of Russian and United States technology, …show more content…

The Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program was designed to ensure the United States’ access to space, by creating government contracts for commercial companies to bid for, secured by a presidential decree [3]. The Atlas V was created for this program, coming from a line of Atlas rockets, being the latest in its family. It replaced the Atlas III and later replacing some flights of the Delta IV, a rival rocket developed by Boeing [4]. The Evolved Expendable Launch Program requires for bidding rockets to have the ability to send satellites and/or humans into orbit.
The Atlas V was designed solely as a launch system to deliver a wide variety of payloads into space. It’s initial launches were US satellites with its first flight containing a military communications satellite [4]. The Atlas V has not been rated to contain human passengers, and currently only functions to take satellites to orbit and escape trajectories. However, the Atlas V is currently undergoing tests with the CST-100 Starliner, to be able to take humans into orbit, with manned missions hopefully taking place in 2018 [5].
Thus, the Atlas V’s original mission design came about due to the EELV program of the United States and continues to function to its original purpose by shuttling payloads to orbit and …show more content…


The Atlas V has 2 main propulsion systems, one in each stage of the rocket, and optional propulsion systems depending on the payload [6]. Within the first stage of the Atlas V is the RD-180 engine, which is initially used before the stage is decoupled and the second stage Centaur engine activates. The payload, depending on its nature may have its own propulsion system, however, varies depending on the payload.

5.1 The RD-180 Engine
The RD-180 engine utilises LO2 (Liquid Oxygen) and RP-1 (Rocket Propellant-1, a refined form of kerosene) as its fuel mixture, with a ratio of 2.72 for oxidiser to fuel [9]. The RD-180 engine utilises a twin chamber design, which is fed by the commonly used turbopump configuration, allowing for the fuel and oxidisers to move out of the two chambers. The RD-180 engine uses an Oxygen rich pre-burner, which provides a greater fuel to thrust ratio, however, high pressure hot gasses must be transported within the engine, as seen in fig 2, which could lead failures within the

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