Atlas V-401 Rocket

Artist's concept of the Atlas V-401 rocket.
January 25, 2018
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Artist's concept of the Atlas V-401 rocket.

Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, or InSight, is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California's Pacific coast between May 5 and June 8, 2018. The lander will launch to Mars aboard an Atlas V-401 launch vehicle, one of the biggest rockets available for interplanetary flight.

It stands 188 feet (57.3 meters) tall, or about as tall as a 19-story building. Fully stacked, with the spacecraft, the Atlas V-401 weighs about 730,000 pounds (333,000 kilograms). That's about 14 big rigs, fully loaded with cargo!

The three numbers in the 401 designation signify:
4: a payload fairing -- or nose cone -- that is about 13 feet (4 meters) in diameter
0: solid-rocket boosters supplementing the main booster
1: the upper stage, which has one engine

JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the InSight Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program, which is managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The launch vehicle and launch services are provided by United Launch Alliance, Centennial, Colorado, a joint venture of Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.

For more information about the mission, go to: