United Launch Alliance successfully launched its 100th mission today with an Atlas V rocket carrying the Morelos-3 satellite for Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transportation. The mission, procured for Mexico by Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services, launched at 6:28 a.m. EDT from Space Launch Complex-41.
“Congratulations to Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services and Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transportation on today’s successful delivery of the Morelos-3 satellite into orbit, providing advanced telecommunications throughout Mexico.” said Jim Sponnick, ULA vice president, Atlas and Delta Programs. “Today was an especially proud day for our team as we launched our 100th successful one-at-a-time mission since ULA was formed in 2006. Congratulations to the entire team including our many mission partners on this unprecedented achievement.”
The Morelos-3 launch was accelerated to an earlier position on the Atlas launch manifest. The acceleration was accommodated by an agreement with the U.S. Air Force. The agreement allowed the MEXSAT customer to launch atop an Atlas V rocket utilizing a launch slot that was previously manifested for a Global Positioning System satellite. This change demonstrates ULA’s ability to meet the needs of commercial customers and the Air Force’s willingness to accommodate real-time needs of other satellite programs.
This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V 421 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter diameter payload fairing and two Aerojet Rocketdyne solid rocket motors attached to the Atlas booster. The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine and the Centaur upper stage was powered by the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine. This was the 57th Atlas V launch since the vehicle’s inaugural mission in 2002 and the fifth in the 421 configuration.
Lockheed Martin’s Commercial Launch Services provided the Atlas V rocket that carried the Morelos-3 to its destination in space.
“Our capabilities in space have always been, and will continue to be, leveraged through partnerships with industry,” said Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, 45th Space Wing commander. “I am very proud of our team and their support of ULA’s historic record number of launches since 2006. We are the Nation’s premier gateway to space and we stand ready to support.”
Morelos-3 is part of the Mexsat constellation of satellites, which provide secure communications for Mexico’s national security needs and communications to rural zones to complement other existing networks. The Mexsat program is an end-to-end satellite communications system that provides 3G+ communications services to mobile terminals across multiple platforms. These services include education and health programs, voice, data, video and internet.
ULA’s next launch is an Atlas V rocket carrying a payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), scheduled for Oct. 8 from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
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