BY JUSTIN RAY

Follow the preparations and launch of the Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rocket carrying the Hellas Sat communications satellite. Reload this page for the very latest on the mission.

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Video coverage for subscribers only:
   VIDEO: TUESDAY'S ROLLOUT OF ATLAS 5 ROCKET TO THE PAD QT
   VIDEO: SHORT VERSION OF ATLAS 5 LAUNCH MOVIE QT
   VIDEO: LONGER VERSION OF ATLAS 5 LAUNCHING HELLAS SAT QT
   VIDEO: OUR LAUNCH FOOTAGE FROM THE CAPE PRESS SITE QT
   VIDEO: VAPOR CLOUD APPEARS IN THE SKY BEHIND ROCKET QT
   VIDEO: POST-LAUNCH SPEECHES DECLARE MISSION SUCCESS QT

   VIDEO: MONDAY'S ROLLOUT OF ATLAS 5 ROCKET TO THE PAD QT
   VIDEO: A PREVIEW OF THE ATLAS 5 LAUNCHING HELLAS SAT QT
   AUDIO: 54-MINUTE PRE-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE QT
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WEDNESDAY, MAY 14, 2003

Tuesday's rocket launch from Cape Canaveral wasn't your every day satellite delivery mission. Sure, it had that unmistakable crackling roar and golden tail of fire. But the successful second flight of Lockheed Martin's Atlas 5 rocket began with a history-making accomplishment and ended with Greece achieving its first presence in space. Read our full story.

0030 GMT (8:30 p.m. EDT Tues.)

Spacecraft controllers have established contact with Hellas Sat following its deployment into orbit today, confirming the Astrium-built satellite is functioning.

TUESDAY, MAY 13, 2003
2248 GMT (6:48 p.m. EDT)


T+plus 38 minutes. The Atlas 5 has delivered its paying cargo into the proper orbit, officials report. The quick-look orbit data shows a successful launch of Hellas Sat into a supersynchronous orbit with an apogee of 85,457 km, perigee of 312.22 km and inclination of 17.06 degrees.

We'll pause our live coverage now. Check back tonight for video of the launch, a wrap-up story and photos.

2241 GMT (6:41 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 31 minutes, 11 seconds. SPACECRAFT SEPARATION! The Greek Hellas Sat television, Internet and multimedia broadcast satellite has been released into Earth orbit from the Centaur!

2240 GMT (6:40 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 30 minutes. The Centaur is in its reorientation maneuver to prepare for releasing the payload.

2239 GMT (6:39 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 29 minutes, 15 seconds. Just under two minutes until spacecraft deployment to complete today's launch.

2238 GMT (6:38 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 28 minutes, 30 seconds. The Centaur's Pratt & Whitney RL10 engine has shut down to complete its second of two firings today.

2237 GMT (6:37 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 27 minutes, 30 seconds. About one minute left to go in powered flight.

2235 GMT (6:35 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 25 minutes. The upper stage continues to fire. This is a four-and-a-half minute burn to boost Hellas Sat from the current low-altitude parking orbit to a highly elliptical supersynchronous transfer orbit around Earth.

2233 GMT (6:33 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 23 minutes, 59 seconds. Centaur is firing again! The single RL10 engine has reignited as planned.

2232 GMT (6:32 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 22 minutes. The vehicle is now approaching the African Ivory Coast as it coasts above the Central Atlantic, just north of the equator.

2230 GMT (6:30 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 20 minutes. About four minutes from Centaur burn number 2. Deployment of Hellas Sat to complete the launch is 11 minutes away.

2226 GMT (6:26 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 16 minutes. The Centaur and Hellas Sat payload are now in a parking orbit around Earth. This coast will last until T+plus 23 minutes, 55 seconds when the upper stage restarts.

2225 GMT (6:25 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 15 minutes, 30 seconds. Lockheed Martin says everything has gone successfully so far in this launch. The first stage performance was better than expected, allowing the first Centaur firing to be slightly shorter than planned.

2224 GMT (6:24 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 14 minutes, 49 seconds. MECO 1. The Centaur main engine has cut off as planned following the first of two planned firings to propel the Greek Hellas Sat communications system into the targeted supersynchronous transfer orbit. The vehicle will coast for about 9 minutes before the Centaur reignites.

2224 GMT (6:24 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 14 minutes, 30 seconds. Standing by for engine shutdown.

2223 GMT (6:23 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 13 minutes, 55 seconds. The Flight Termination System has been safed as planned. Rocket remains on the Range track.

2222 GMT (6:22 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 12 minutes, 40 seconds. Downrange distance approaching 2,000 miles, velocity is 15,900 miles per hour.

2222 GMT (6:22 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 12 minutes. The RL10 engine parameters are all reported normal.

2220 GMT (6:20 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 10 minutes. A normal flight so far, Lockheed Martin says. The rocket is 1,350 miles downrange, traveling at 13,800 miles per hour.

2219 GMT (6:19 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 9 minutes. About seven minutes remaining in this first of two firings by the Centaur to deliver Hellas Sat into orbit. All systems still reported normal as the rocket continues to fly on the proper trajectory.

2218 GMT (6:18 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 8 minutes, 30 seconds. Vehicle continues right on the planned track. Downrange distance 1,000 miles, velocity 12,700 miles per hour.

2217 GMT (6:17 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 7 minutes, 45 seconds. Vehicle rates reported normal.

2217 GMT (6:17 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 7 minutes. Centaur still firing as planned on this second flight of Atlas 5.

2215 GMT (6:15 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 5 minutes. The Centaur upper stage is continuing to burn as planned. Full thrust reported from the RL10 engine.

2214 GMT (6:14 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 4 minutes, 45 seconds. The payload fairing has been jettisoned. It is no longer needed to protect the Hellas Sat satellite during the launch.

2214 GMT (6:14 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 4 minutes, 30 seconds. The spent first stage has separated and Centaur's RL10 main engine has ignited!

2213 GMT (6:13 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 3 minutes. Altitude 30 miles, downrange distance 53 miles, speed 5,200 mph. One minute left in the first stage burn by the RD-180 main engine.

2211 GMT (6:11 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 1 minute. A smooth flight for Atlas 5. Vehicle is right on course. No problems reported.

2210 GMT (6:10 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 20 seconds. The Atlas is performing its roll and pitch maneuvers to achieve the proper trajectory.

2210 GMT (6:10 p.m. EDT)

T+plus 15 seconds. Umbilical mast is cleared. RD-180 engine is at 100 percent thrust.

2210 GMT (6:10 p.m. EDT)

LIFTOFF! Liftoff of the Lockheed Martin Atlas 5 rocket -- launching a Greek presence in space with the Hellas Sat communications spacecraft!

2209 GMT (6:09 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 40 seconds. "Go Atlas" "Go Centaur" "Go Atlas 5" called by launch team.

2208 GMT (6:08 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 90 seconds. Launch control system is enabled. The Flight Termination System safe and arm devices have been armed.

2208 GMT (6:08 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 2 minutes. The Atlas first stage and Centaur upper stage are now switching to internal power. Liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen topping for Centaur will be stopped in 10 seconds.

2207 GMT (6:07 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 3 minutes. The Atlas first stage liquid oxygen replenishment is being secured so the tank can be pressurized for flight. Also, the RP-1 tank is being pressurized to flight level.

2206 GMT (6:06 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 4 minutes and counting. The final countdown is now underway for the second voyage of Atlas 5! The automatic computer sequencer is in control of all the critical events through liftoff.

2205 GMT (6:05 p.m. EDT)

Range is now go! Final clear-to-launch has been given for liftoff at 6:10 p.m.

2205 GMT (6:05 p.m. EDT)

The launch team in the Atlas 5 Spaceflight Operations Center have been polled by Launch Conductor Mike Jacobs. Everyone has reported a "go" status for launch except the Range, which is awaiting final confirmation of readiness.

2203 GMT (6:03 p.m. EDT)

NEW LAUNCH TIME. Liftoff has been rescheduled for 6:10 p.m. EDT.

2201 GMT (6:01 p.m. EDT)

Thirty minutes are remaining in today's window to launch.

2159 GMT (5:59 p.m. EDT)

There are two boats that are the problem delaying today's launch of Atlas 5, Lockheed Martin says. No technical problems are being worked and the weather is acceptable.

2155 GMT (5:55 p.m. EDT)

There has been no official estimate of a new launch time. Range is still working to clear the launch hazard area.

2151 GMT (5:51 p.m. EDT)

Liftoff of the Atlas 5 rocket is in a temporary hold because the Range says there is a boat in the restricted waters off the coast. A new liftoff time has not been set. Today's window extends to 6:31 p.m. EDT.

2151 GMT (5:51 p.m. EDT)

The hold will be extended due to a boat in the restricted launch hazard area.

2150 GMT (5:50 p.m. EDT)

Range is no go.

2148 GMT (5:48 p.m. EDT)

Now half-way through this planned hold. Readiness polls of the launch team are coming up in two minutes.

2143 GMT (5:43 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 4 minutes and holding. The countdown has entered this final planned hold. The pause is scheduled to last 10 minutes. There are no major problems being worked and weather conditions still look favorable for an on-time liftoff at 5:57 p.m.

2142 GMT (5:42 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 5 minutes. Standing by to go into the built-in hold.

The Hellas Sat spacecraft atop the Atlas 5 rocket is now switching from ground-fed power to internal batteries for launch.

2137 GMT (5:37 p.m. EDT)

All systems remain go, Lockheed Martin reports.

2131 GMT (5:31 p.m. EDT)

T-minus 16 minutes and counting. Countdown clocks are ticking down to the T-minus 4 minute mark where a 10-minute hold will occur. Liftoff still set for 5:57 p.m. EDT (2205 GMT).

The fuel-fill sequence begins at this time in the count for the Russian-made RD-180 main engine, which powers the Atlas rocket during its first four minutes of flight.

2127 GMT (5:27 p.m. EDT)

Liftoff is now just 30 minutes away! There are no technical problems being worked and the countdown continues on schedule.

2117 GMT (5:17 p.m. EDT)

Now 40 minutes from launch. Things continue to go well in the countdown.

2108 GMT (5:08 p.m. EDT)

A check of the rocket's Flight Termination System is being performed. The FTS would be used to destroy the vehicle in the event of a malfunction during launch.

2105 GMT (5:05 p.m. EDT)

The liquid hydrogen tank in the Centaur upper stage has just reached 97 percent full. Topping is now beginning.

2104 GMT (5:04 p.m. EDT)

The fast-fill loading of the first stage liquid oxygen tank has been completed to 96 percent. Topping off of the tank is now starting.

2101 GMT (5:01 p.m. EDT)

First stage liquid oxygen is now at 90 percent. Centaur liquid hydrogen is at 80 percent.

2057 GMT (4:57 p.m. EDT)

Launch of Atlas 5 and Hellas Sat is now one hour away.

The Centaur liquid hydrogen tank is half full. And the Centaur engine chilldown has been initiated.

2052 GMT (4:52 p.m. EDT)

Atlas first stage liquid oxygen has hit the 70 percent mark. The Centaur liquid hydrogen tank has reached 20 percent.

The flight control final preparations are starting.

2046 GMT (4:46 p.m. EDT)

The liquid hydrogen chilldown is now complete and the super-cold fuel is flowing to fill the Centaur upper stage. The cryogenic propellant will be consumed with liquid oxygen by the stage's Pratt & Whitney-made RL10 engine to propel the Hellas Sat spacecraft into the targeted supergeosynchronous transfer orbit today.

2043 GMT (4:43 p.m. EDT)

The first stage liquid oxygen tank is now half-full as fueling operations continue this afternoon with no problems reported. Launch remains scheduled for 5:57 p.m. EDT.

2035 GMT (4:35 p.m. EDT)

First stage liquid oxygen tank is now 30 percent full.

Chilled to Minus-298 degrees F, the liquid oxygen will be used with RP-1 kerosene by the RD-180 main engine on the first stage during the initial four minutes of flight today.

2030 GMT (4:30 p.m. EDT)

The Centaur liquid oyxgen tank has reached flight level.

2028 GMT (4:28 p.m. EDT)

A layer of ice is slowly beginning to form on the liquid oxygen section of the Atlas 5 first stage as the cryogenic oxidizer continues to flow into the stage. That tank is now 10 percent full.

2025 GMT (4:25 p.m. EDT)

The Centaur liquid oxygen tank has now reached the 95 percent level. Topping off of the tank is starting.

2021 GMT (4:21 p.m. EDT)

The chilldown conditioning of liquid hydrogen propellant lines at Complex 41 is now starting to prepare the plumbing for transferring the Minus-423 degree F fuel into the rocket.

2019 GMT (4:19 p.m. EDT)

Centaur liquid oxygen tanking has passed 70 percent.

2016 GMT (4:16 p.m. EDT)

The chilldown conditioning of the systems for the first stage liquid oxygen tank have been completed. And a "go" has been given by Launch Conductor Mike Jacobs to begin pumping super-cold liquid oxygen into the Atlas 5's first stage.

The Atlas liquid oxygen tank is the largest tank to be filled today.

The propellant for the first stage -- the RP-1 kerosene -- was loaded aboard the rocket during a recent countdown dress rehearsal. The kerosene is considered storable and can be loaded into the rocket ahead of time.

However, the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen cryogenics being pumped into the rocket this afternoon are chilled to several hundred degrees below zero and naturally boil away. Therefore they have be loaded rather close to launch.

2012 GMT (4:12 p.m. EDT)

The Centaur liquid tank tank has reached the 40 percent mark.

2006 GMT (4:06 p.m. EDT)

The upper stage liquid oxygen tank is 10 percent full in this early phase of fueling.

2001 GMT (4:01 p.m. EDT)

Centaur liquid oxygen tanking operations are now starting after those chilldown procedures were finished.

The liquid oxygen -- chilled to Minus-298 degrees F -- will be consumed during the launch by the Centaur's single RL10 engine along with liquid hydrogen to be pumped into the stage a little later in the countdown.

1953 GMT (3:53 p.m. EDT)

The Centaur liquid oxygen transfer line chilldown is now starting in advance of loading the upper stage.

Read our earlier status center coverage.

Flight data file
Vehicle: Atlas 5 (AV-002)
Payload: Hellas Sat
Launch date: May 13, 2003
Launch window: 5:57-6:31 p.m. EDT (2157-2231 GMT)
Launch site: Complex 41, Cape Canaveral AFS, Florida
Satellite broadcast: Telstar 4, Transponder 11, C-band

Pre-launch briefing
Mission preview - Our story looking at this second Atlas 5 launch.

Weather forecast - The latest forecast for launch day conditions.

Launch hazard area - A map of the restricted area during liftoff.

Ground track - See the trajectory the rocket will follow during its flight.

Orbit insertion - Illustration of Hellas Sat's trek to geostationary orbit.

The rocket - Technical story of the new Atlas 5 rocket family.

Hellas Sat - Learn more about the satellite cargo for this Atlas 5 launch.

Complex 41 - A tour of the Atlas 5 launch site and description of the "clean pad" concept.

Inaugural Atlas 5 - Our coverage of the maiden Atlas 5 flight.

Video coverage - A comprehensive collection of Atlas 5 video clips and launch pad panoramas.

Atlas index - A directory of our previous Atlas launch coverage.


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