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Stage 1 Atlas V Rocket

Centerpiece of the first stage is the common core booster, 106.5 feet (32.46 meters) in length and 12.5 feet (3.81 meters) in diameter. It has a throttleable, RD-180 engine from a joint venture of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, West Palm Beach, Fla., and NPO Energomash, Moscow. Thermally stable kerosene fuel (type RP-1) and liquid oxygen will be loaded shortly before launch into cylindrical fuel tanks that make up about half of the total height of the vehicle. The common core booster can provide thrust of up to about 850,000 pounds (3.8 million newtons) at full throttle.

The first stage of the Atlas V rocket for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission is lifted into an upright position for placement inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Raising the Atlas V Rocket
A crane lifts the 106.5-foot-long first stage of the Atlas V rocket for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission through the open door of the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Atlas V Stands Tall
In the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41, the payload fairing containing NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft was attached to its Atlas V rocket on Nov. 3, 2011.
Mars Science Laboratory Atop Its Atlas V

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