Denver, Colo., (June 11, 2007) - June 11 marked the 50th anniversary of the first Atlas launch. Conceived as a deterrent and protector of our nation, Atlas was America's first operational intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). It went on to launch the world's first communications satellite, the first Americans to orbit Earth, and the first successful spacecraft to many planets.
In its five-decade history, the Atlas has launched nearly 600 times and evolved through numerous vehicle configurations to the current Atlas V, which was developed as part of the Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. Since 1990, the program has developed eight new configurations, each of which was successful on its inaugural flight. Since 1993, Atlas has launched 80 consecutive national security, space exploration, and commercial missions with 100 percent mission success.
The spirit of excellence and innovation that began more than 50 years ago is alive and well today. Continuous improvement, customer satisfaction, and a passion for mission success remain keys to the program. The men and women working on today's Atlas program are extraordinarily proud to be building upon the accomplishments of the missile and space pioneers that developed and evolved Atlas over the years. The capabilities provided by Atlas enhance our nation's ability to secure peace, protect national security, lead exploration of the solar system (and beyond), increase economic prosperity, and expand our knowledge of the Earth and its environment.
Earlier this year, the Delta program celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first Thor launch. Delta traces its roots back to the Thor intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), also conceived as a deterrent and protector of our nation.
Together, the United Launch Alliance team celebrates 100 years of combined experience and more than 1270 launches.