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GOES-R Launch Vehicle Overview
Atlas V541 ELV

GOES-R and GOES-S will launch aboard an Atlas
V 541 ELV similar to the one shown above.

The Launch Vehicle that will place the GOES-R and GOES-S satellites into geosynchronous orbit will be an Atlas V 541 expendable launch vehicle (ELV). The term expendable launch vehicle means each vehicle is only used once. The three numbers in the 541 designation signify a payload fairing, or nose cone, that is approximately 5 meters (16.4 feet) in diameter; four solid-rocket boosters fastened alongside the central common core booster; and a one-engine Centaur upper stage.

A launch vehicle is chosen based on how much mass the vehicle can lift into space. A two-stage Atlas V 541 launch vehicle was selected for the GOES-R and S launches because it has the right liftoff capability for the heavy weight requirements.

The GOES-R and GOES-S spacecraft will launch in 2016 and 2017, respectively, aboard Atlas V 541 rockets from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Prime Contractor


NASA Kennedy Space Center awarded the launch services contract for the GOES-R and GOES-S satellite missions to United Launch Alliance of Centennial, CO in April 2012.

Launch Vehicle Specifications
  Type Atlas V 541
  Height and Payload 191 feet (58 meters)
  Mass 1.17 million pounds
(531,000 kilograms)
Launch Vehicle   Stage 1: Atlas V Rocket: Fuel and oxygen tanks that feed an engine for the ascent; powers spacecraft into Earth orbit.   Stage 1: Atlas V Rocket:  Fuel and oxygen tanks that feed an engine for the ascent; powers spacecraft into Earth orbit.
     
Solid Rocket Motors: Used to increase engine thrust; 4 total.   Solid Rocket Motors:  Used to increase engine thrust; 4 total.
     
Stage 2: Centaur: Fuel and oxidizer and the vehicle's "brains"; fires twice, once to insert the vehicle-spacecraft stack into low Earth orbit and then again to accelerate the spacecraft out of Earth orbit and on its way towards Mars.   Stage 2: Centaur:  Fuel and oxidizer and the vehicle's "brains"; fires twice, once to insert the vehicle-spacecraft stack into low Earth orbit.
     
Payload Fairing: Thin composite or nose cone to protect the spacecraft during the ascent through Earth's atmosphere.   Payload Fairing:  Thin composite or nose cone to protect the spacecraft during the ascent through Earth's atmosphere.
 
 
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