A barrage circuitous that has been about for 40 years is now one of the best avant-garde on the planet afterwards ability an check to become the home of Lockheed Martin’s Atlas 5 for the new millennium.
Representing a above change in aesthetics for America’s rocket industry, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Circuitous 41 has been adapted into the country’s aboriginal “clean pad.”
“We assuredly accompany barrage operations to the 21st Century,” said John Karas, Lockheed Martin’s carnality admiral for Atlas 5 development. “This is a advanced barrage facility. It absolutely represents a bound advanced to the way we action and barrage rockets.”
The “clean pad” agency ample barrage pad architecture are no best needed. What’s more, the abstraction is declared to accomplish the turnaround amidst launches beneath and abate the botheration of bottlenecks accomplished on accepted barrage pads, which can be angry up for months if one mission has a diffuse delay.
“It’s a radically altered concept, it’s accurate itself able-bodied and we attending advanced to ablution off our new pad afterwards in the ages of August,” Karas said.
The ASOCThe assumption centermost of Circuitous 41 is the Atlas 5 Spaceflight Operations Center, frequently referred to as the ASOC. The ability combines into one abode what ahead was advance over a dozen sites.
The architecture was already acclimated to action solid rocket booster segments of the Titan 4A vehicle, but Lockheed Martin gave the ability a complete facelift and amplification for Atlas 5.
Positioned 4.1 afar from the barrage pad, this multi-purpose architecture is breadth the Atlas 5 aboriginal date booster and Centaur aerial date are taken anon afterwards accession in Florida from the Lockheed Martin accomplishment bulb in Denver. The high-bay breadth allows technicians to accomplish some powered testing on the stages, and again accumulate the segments in acting accumulator until it’s time for them to be confused to the accumulation architecture in alertness for launch. There is abundant allowance for a half-dozen rockets to be stored in the air-conditioned bay.
This brotherhood is a abandonment from the accepted era of Atlas 2 and 3 alternation rockets at Circuitous 36, which has the barrage aggregation positioned in the bastion a few hundred yards from the pads and administration amidst several afar abroad in the Cape’s Hangar AE Mission Directors Center.
The ascendancy centermost has a amphitheater design, with 12 primary consoles on the aboriginal attic for the barrage team. These stations accommodate Barrage Aqueduct Mike Jacobs’ animate breadth he will baby-sit the absolute countdown, the abettor barrage aqueduct aing to Jacobs, Atlas and Centaur propellant consoles breadth the fueling operations are monitored, flight ascendancy and electrical systems, abstracts and communications, arena electronics, arena software, ability electrical, ecology control, assurance and the redline monitor.
Behind the team, on the added floor, are three apartment that authority the rocket engineering team, the burden barter and the chief barrage managers. Separated by glass, the aerial attic is breadth the key decisions to barrage will come, casual the “go” from Barrage Director Adrian Laffitte in the administration allowance to Barrage Aqueduct Mike Jacobs built-in downstairs.
On both abandon of the aerial attic are two apartment that accommodate added basement and ascertainment credibility for engineers and barter to adviser the admission and launch.
The advanced bank of the ascendancy centermost is adorned with clocks, admission timers, logos and best conspicuously a 360-square bottom rear bump video bank to affectation assorted barrage pad camera angle and abstracts charts.
Because of the all-embracing ambit of Atlas 5, including the Russian-made engines and adopted customers, the ASOC has to ensure aegis and technology consign issues aren’t compromised.
Companies ablution their satellites pay big bucks for the rocket and as such Lockheed Martin and All-embracing Barrage Services — the banker of Atlas — accept created accommodation areas for the chump on all four floors of the ASOC.
Starting with appointment apartment on the aboriginal floor, VIPs can go the added attic breadth a apartment is amidst with a abounding kitchen, and again arch to the third attic back you can attending out the windows and see the pad and abundant of the surrounding area. Back it’s barrage time, you arch to the fourth attic accouter for alfresco viewing.
The VIFAtlas 5 launches are controlled from the ASOC, but the 293-foot alpine Vertical Integration Ability is breadth the rockets appear together. Amidst 1,800 anxiety from the pad, this anew congenital anatomy appearance a 60-ton crane that hoists the segments of the Atlas 5 rockets assimilate the adaptable ablution platform.
The ample rocket undergoes added testing afore the burden is delivered to the VIF. The accessory is candy and fueled at a abstracted armpit — either the bartering Astrotech ability 22 afar abroad a Titusville or at a government armpit for aggressive and NASA payloads.
The aircraft is encapsulated in the rocket’s adenoids cone afore abrogation the processing architecture for the ride to Circuitous 41. It is hoisted into the architecture and army aloft the agent for launch.
An Integrated Systems Test is again performed amidst the rocket and burden to affirm the duo is accessible for launch. With all systems “go”, it’s time to cycle the launcher to the pad.
Construction of the VIF began in January 1999. Two hundred truckloads of cement, or 1,800 cubic yards, went into the VIF’s foundation, and 3,250 bags of animate were acclimated in the building.
The platformThe 1.4-million batter adaptable ablution belvedere is what the Atlas 5 sits aloft from the time it is ample calm in the VIF until the capital agent is accursed at liftoff. Umbilicals agriculture fuel, ability and all added curve from the arena to the rocket run through the platform.
The belvedere is 45 anxiety wide, 55 anxiety continued and 185 anxiety alpine to the top of the mast, which appearance a wind damper that holds the rocket abiding while apparent to the acclimate on the pad and routes propellant curve to the Centaur and conditioned air to the burden central the adenoids cone.
The rollout takes about a half-hour, extensive a top acceleration about two afar per hour.
Once at the pad, the belvedere is bargain and anchored on mounts. The PVAN and GVAN — the burden and rocket arena arrangement vans — are formed beeline into Pad Accessories Architecture on the arctic ancillary of the vehicle, actual absorbed and acclimated for the absolute countdown. The Pad Accessories Architecture is sealed, attention the vans from the bang of launch.
The padWork to body Circuitous 41 began in 1963. The pad opened for business in 1965, hosting 27 Titan rocket launches through 1999 that beatific NASA’s Viking landers to Mars, the accompanying Voyager probes to the solar system’s alien planets and assorted added communications and aggressive satellites into Earth orbit.
The check of the circuitous for Atlas 5 was the fourth above barrage pad architecture job Lockheed Martin had undertaken in contempo years. Circuitous 40 was refurbished for the Titan 4 a decade ago, again the SLC-3 East pad at Vandenberg Air Force Abject in California was rebuilt for the Atlas 2 alternation and Circuitous 36 was upgraded for the Atlas 3 rocket.
Karas says anniversary pad has affiliated the advancements fabricated with the antecedent face-lifting project.
“So we affectionate of alarm it our fourth bearing of barrage pad. (Complex) 41, appropriate now, is not alone the best modern, but additionally best automated, best redundant, newest abstraction barrage pad in the United States and arguably best in the world.”
There are additionally four ammunition tanks broadcast about the pad. The better is the sphere-shaped 465,000 gallon aqueous oxygen catchbasin that holds the super-cold cryogenic for the Atlas aboriginal stage. Two 48,000 gallon RP-1 tanks are abounding with the highly-refined kerosene fuel, additionally for the Atlas booster. The Centaur aerial date consumes aqueous oxygen and aqueous hydrogen, which are stored in abstracted 28,000 gallon and 48,000 gallon tanks, respectively.
The pad additionally has a host of aerial helium and nitrogen accumulator tanks.
Once the rocket is formed into position for launch, a corrupt is affiliated to pump the RP-1 propellant into the aboriginal stage.
The aqueous oxygen and aqueous hydrogen loading operations action during the final three hours of the countdown. However, the affairs for the cryo fueling begins anon afterwards the rollout is completed back automatic coupling devices, alleged autocouplers, are akin from the arena to the adaptable ablution platform.
The autocouplers centermost up and appoint automatically, and again accomplish aperture checks. The accessories are additionally acclimated for the pneumatics and hydraulic systems.
“That is one of the appearance that makes the apple-pie pad operation assignment actual well. It is one of the aboriginal operations of its affectionate in the world,” Karas said.
The aboriginal date aqueous oxygen is fed from an umbilical at the abject of the rocket. The Centaur is loaded via curve extending from the umbilical mast of the platform.
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