United Launch Alliance

ULA Launching NASA into the Future

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) lifted off November 26, 2011. MSL was the last of five critical missions ULA launched for NASA within a six month period. The five missions were launched both successfully and on-time as a result of the exceptional performance and teamwork demonstrated by the combined ULA, mission partner, and NASA Launch Services Program (LSP) team. ULA is proud to support the global science community in this campaign unprecedented not only for its reach across the solar system, but also for its tempo and precision.

The MSL mission was launched aboard an Atlas V 541 configuration vehicle, which includes a 5-meter diameter RUAG Space payload fairing along with four Aerojet solid rocket motors attached to the Atlas booster. The Atlas booster was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine and the Centaur upper stage was powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RL10A engine.

With more than 50 years of service to the nation, the Atlas launch vehicle has a rich history supporting NASA’s planetary missions. The Atlas launch vehicle and its Centaur upper stage have boosted missions to every planet in our solar system. The Atlas V 541 vehicle was selected as the launcher for the Mars Science Laboratory mission for its liftoff capability combined with its certification to launch the nuclear-powered generators required for the MSL mission.

United Launch Alliance

United Launch Alliance (ULA) is the nation’s rocket company, launching the most reliable and successful launch vehicles—Atlas and Delta—that have supported America’s presence in space for more than 50 years. ULA delivers critical payloads to orbit from national security satellites to deep space and exploration missions.

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Daily Briefing

  • Chris Carberry: One Year of Curiosity - Are We Any Closer to Sending Humans to Mars?...

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  • Read the results of a national opinion poll about human and robotic exploration of Mars....

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  • Learn about the Humans to Mars Summit and watch the live webcast on May 6-8, 2013!...

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  • Has Curiosity found clues to life's building blocks on Mars?...

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  • As we all expected one of the Mars satellites imaged the area where Curiosity landed in greater detail...

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  • Bill Nye’s reaction to the Rover’s landing as he watches it from PlanetFest in California...

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  • Christopher Carberry, head of a Beverly-based nonprofit organization pushing for human exploration of Mars by 2030, was in Pasadena, CA...

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  • It's time for NASA to set its sight on sending a human to the red planet...

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  • Jeff Horwich interviewing Chris Carberry, Executive Director of Explore Mars, on his thoughts on the future of Mars expeditions...

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  • 'Landing Parties “See we’re not all geeks” '...

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  • Image of descending Curiosity by HiRISE on MRO
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  • T-0 Days: Landing - Today is the day! Will the landing be successful? Go Curiosity!...

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  • Chris Carberry blog in Huffington Post: "Humans on Mars by 2030 can and should be our next goal."...

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  • T-1 Days: Entry, Descent and Landing ...

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  • T-2 Days: Navigation - Each rover we send to Mars is more autonomous in its navigation than the previous rovers...

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  • Explore Mars' Chris Carberry spoke on NPR's Morning Edition about excitement around Curiosity's landing...

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  • Forbes' Alex Knapp on the upcoming landing of the Mars Probe Curiosity...

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  • T-3 Days: Communications and its importance on the 23 month mission. Without communications no mission; it is a simple as that...

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  • T-4 Days: Analysis of the Curiosity rover wheels and the necessary power to allow the rover to travel across the rough Mars terrain...

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  • T-5 Days: New possibilities of a more hospitable Martian past have emerged...

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  • NPR's Diane Rehm: The U.S. Mission To Mars. Get Curious at 45:20!...

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  • "Mars Rock" lands at Houston City Hall...

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  • The Martian Invasion starts with "7 Minutes of Terror" Aug 5 2012 at Space Center Houston Landing Party...

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  • We could not drive large distances with the first mars rover; scientists named the first rock Sojourner visited “Yogi.”...

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  • Landing in 1997, a bouncing method of airbags was used to land Mars Pathfinder after having been slowed with a parachute. ...

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  • Humans on Mars by 2030! Join Explore Mars and the George Washington Univ. Space Policy Institute at the 2013 Humans to Mars Summit ...

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  • We are not living in ordinary times, and the stakes have never been higher for a Mars landing ......

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  • That’s a long tail! The giant dust-evil plume shown in this late-springtime photo of the Martian landscape of Amazonis Planitia is 1.5 mile high. ...

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