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The Mission




Rocket: Atlas 5 (AV-030)
Payload: MUOS 1
Date: Feb. 24, 2012
Window: 5:15 to 5:59 p.m. EST (2215-2259 GMT)
Site: SLC-41, Cape Canaveral, Florida
Feed: SES 2, C-band, Transponder 21, 87° West

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Story: Launch sequence

Story: The preview

Story: 200th Centaur

Story: Atlas 5 facts

Ascent events timeline

Ground track map

MUOS fact sheet

Lockheed brochure

Photos: Encapsulation

Photos: Payload mate

Photos: Rocket rollout

Photos: More rollout

Photos: On the pad

Photos: Nature shots

Photos: Scrubbed

Photos: Back on pad

Photos: Launch gallery

Photos: Beach view

Photos: Pad camera

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Rocketcams offer dazzling views of Atlas 5 launch
BY JUSTIN RAY
SPACEFLIGHT NOW

Posted: February 26, 2012


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When the largest and most powerful Atlas rocket in history thundered to space Friday, three onboard video cameras captured the stunning views of what it's like to ride the vehicle off the launch pad and into orbit.


The Atlas 5 rocket ascends from Complex 41.
See a rocketcam photo gallery

 
Three tiny cameras, built by Ecliptic Enterprises Corp., beamed back the imagery as the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 departed Cape Canaveral's Complex 41 at 5:15 p.m. EST and headed due east on its climb into a preliminary Earth orbit 12 minutes later carrying a U.S. Navy's mobile communications satellite.

Check out these amazing videos of the launch, which are presented here for Spaceflight Now+Plus users with the live liftoff audio. (Subscriptions are the only source of income that keep this website alive)

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Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: RIDE ATLAS 5 ROCKET THROUGH THE FIRST STAGE PLAY
VIDEO: CENTAUR UPPER STAGE BURNS TO REACH ORBIT PLAY
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A pair of cameras were mounted on the exterior of the first stage, one pointed downward to watch two of the strap-on solid rocket boosters and another facing upward to view the nose cone jettisoning and the Centaur upper stage separating to ignite its main engine.

A third camera was affixed to the Centaur with an ideal view of the RL10 engine burning while looking back at Earth.

It was the 105th mission for Ecliptic's "rocketcam" program, including 96 rocket launches and 9 aboard satellites. The cameras were used throughout the final phase of the space shuttle program and others are orbiting the Moon today on NASA's twin GRAIL spacecraft to image the lunar surface as part of an educational project with Sally Ride.

The footage of Friday's launch begins with the Earth-facing camera on the first stage showing the launch pad water deluge system activating to flood the site for sound-dampening as the RD-180 main engine roars to life, shaking off layers of ice from the liquid oxygen tank. The Aerojet solid boosters then light, propelling the giant 206-foot-tall rocket off the mobile launching platform in scant seconds.

A roll maneuver and pitchover is commanded to position the rocket in the correct orientation for its flight downrange over the Atlantic Ocean atop two-and-a-half-million pounds of thrust.


Solid rocket booster separation.
 
The solids did their burning in about 90 seconds, then peeled away to lessen the rocket's weight about 30 miles in the sky as the first stage's kerosene-fed engine continued to fire.

Just over three minutes into the launch, the space-facing camera witnessed the bulbous nose cone that shrouded the Navy satellite payload during ascent through the atmosphere separating to fall away.

That same camera, a minute later, showed the Centaur flying free from the core stage and igniting for the first of three planned firings to heave the 15,000-pound spacecraft into the proper orbit.

A switch to Centaur's aft-facing camera then occurred to provide a dramatic movie of what riding the venerable upper stage is like as the vehicle flew into a beautiful sunset over the Central Atlantic while accelerating to orbital velocity.

The rock-steady stage and its dependable Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne RL10 fired for eight minutes to achieve a parking orbit around Earth of 90 by 337 nautical miles high, tiled 28 degrees to the equator.

It was the 200th launch of a Centaur dating back 50 years.

At that point in the flight, the video was finished. But the Centaur would go on to perform two more burns and successfully deploy the MUOS 1 satellite three hours after liftoff.

See a rocketcam photo gallery from the launch.


Sunset from Centaur camera.
 

Spaceflight Now Plus
Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: ATLAS 5 ROCKET BLASTS OFF WITH MUOS 1 PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: ATLAS 5 ROCKET SOARS DOWNRANGE PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: BEACH MOUND CAMERA PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: UP-CLOSE PAD VIEW PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: VIF ROOF PLAY

VIDEO: ATLAS ROLLED BACK TO ASSEMBLY BUILDING PLAY
VIDEO: WEATHER SCRUBS SECOND LAUNCH ATTEMPT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: COUNTDOWN SCRUBBED AT T-75 SECONDS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: NARRATED PREVIEW OF ATLAS/MUOS LAUNCH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ATLAS 5 ROCKET ROLLED OUT TO LAUNCH PAD PLAY
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