[Via Satellite 10-02-2015] United Launch Alliance (ULA) reached a launch milestone Oct. 2, completing its 100 successful launch since forming in 2006. The Boeing–Lockheed Martin joint venture orbited the Morelos 3 satellite using an Atlas 5 rocket for Mexico’s Ministry of Communications and Transportation (SCT).
Lockheed Martin Commercial Launch Services procured the contract for the launch, and the mission was accelerated to an earlier position on the Atlas 5 manifest through an agreement with the U.S. Air Force. The mission swapped out for the launch slot of a Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite. The Boeing-built Morelos 3 is part of the Mexsat constellation, designed for secure communications to meet the needs in Mexico. The last satellite for the Mexsat program was destroyed in an ILS Proton failure.
Morelos 3 launched aboard an Atlas 5 421 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter diameter payload fairing and two Aerojet Rocketdyne solid rocket motors attached to the Atlas booster. The Russian-built RD-180 engine from RD Amross powered the Atlas booster, and Aerojet Rocketdyne’s RL10C-1 engine powered the Centaur upper stage. This was the 57th Atlas 5 launch since the vehicle’s inaugural mission in 2002 and the fifth in the 421 configuration.
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