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U.S. successfully launched Atlas rocket

A file photo of Atlas rocket lifting off from Cape Canaveral.

MOSCOW (BNS): U.S successfully launched an Atlas 5 heavy carrier rocket with a satellite, built under a commercial arrangement with the United States government, according to a media report.

According to RIA Novosti, the rocket with a PAN satellite on board lifted off from the Kennedy space center in Florida at 5:35 p.m. EDT (21.35 GMT) on Tuesday.

Space experts believe that the PAN satellite, whose development was shrouded in secrecy, will "serve as a communications gap-filler between the aging constellation of Ultra-High Frequency Follow-On (UFO) spacecraft and the sophisticated next-generation Mobile User Objective System that's still being developed," RIA Novosti quoted an article of the website Spaceflight

Atlas rocket is powered by RD-180 engine, which have a dual-combustion chamber, dual nozzle with extremely efficient high-pressure staged combustion cycle. The RD-180 was first deployed on the Atlas III in 2000 and has served many Atlas vehicles since then.

Rights to employ the RD-180 were acquired by General Dynamics Space Systems Division (later purchased by Lockheed Martin) in the early 1990s for use in the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) and the Atlas program, it said.

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