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Atlas V Completes Practice Countdown (Dec. 20)

CAPE CANAVERAL Air Force Station, Fla. --- Lockheed Martin's second Atlas V vehicle, designated AV-002, has successfully completed a practice countdown to prepare for launch early next year. The Atlas team configured the vehicle with the new 5.4-meter payload fairing as a "pathfinder" activity to get ready for the first 500-series Atlas V, which will follow the launch of AV-002 next year. Built by Contraves Space AG, of Zurich, Switzerland, the large new fairing encapsulates the satellite and the Centaur upper stage and defines the Atlas V 500 series.

"This wet dress rehearsal fulfilled two important objectives," said Adrian Laffitte, director of Atlas programs at Cape Canaveral. "We successfully completed one of the major tests leading to the second Atlas V launch early next year. We also performed a significant validation of the Atlas 500 series vehicle by using the new payload fairing and simulating operations with the Centaur that is a first for the Atlas program."

Wet dress rehearsal started with Atlas V rolling to the launch pad from the vertical integration facility on Tuesday. RP-1, the kerosene-like fuel for the Atlas booster, was loaded on board in the afternoon. On Wednesday, the supercold fuels were loaded into the Atlas booster and the Centaur upper stage, controlled automatically from the Atlas V Spaceflight Operations Center (ASOC). Earlier today, RP-1 was detanked and the vehicle moved back to the vertical integration facility. This is the sixth successful roll to and from the launch pad.

The successful wet dress rehearsal closes out Atlas operations for the year at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. This year the Atlas team successfully flew five different launch vehicle variants from three different pads including the final flight of Atlas IIA and the inaugural flight of Atlas V, which performed flawlessly, capping a ten-year effort to build the new rocket and brand-new launch facilities at Cape Canaveral, Fla. Next year's manifest includes a mix of Atlas IIAS, Atlas III and Atlas V vehicles for government and commercial customers.

AV-002 processing will begin immediately after the year-end break, and will include another practice countdown in flight configuration for the 400 series. AV-003, the first 500 series vehicle to fly, will be delivered in mid-February for a launch in the second quarter. Two solid rocket motors will be added to the AV-003 vehicle. Built by Aerojet, the new SRMs for Atlas V have successfully completed three test firings, the most recent Dec. 11.

Atlas launches are managed by International Launch Services (ILS). ILS is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and two Russian companies, Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia. ILS markets and manages the missions for the Atlas and the Russian Proton launch vehicles.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company is one of the core operating units of Lockheed Martin Corporation. Space Systems designs, develops, tests, manufactures and operates a variety of advanced technology systems for military, civil and commercial customers. Chief products include a full-range of space launch systems, including heavy-lift capability, ground systems, remote sensing and communications satellites for commercial and government customers, advanced space observatories and interplanetary spacecraft, fleet ballistic missiles and missile defense systems.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a highly diversified global enterprise principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture and integration of advanced-technology systems, products and services. The Corporation's core businesses span space and telecommunications, electronics, information and services, aeronautics, energy and systems integration. Lockheed Martin had 2001 sales surpassing $24 billion.

Atlas V Completes Successful Practice Countdown For Its Second Launch