Stage 1: Atlas V Rocket

illustration of InSight launch vehicle with rocket highlighted

Atlas V Launch Vehicle, Stage 1 Rocket: The Stage 1 Atlas V Rocket has fuel and oxygen tanks that feed an engine for the ascent; powers spacecraft into Earth orbit.


    The Atlas V first stage is the common core booster. This main booster is 107 feet (32.5 meters) long, with a diameter of 12.5 feet (3.8 meters). With the payload on board, the launch vehicle is 188 feet (57.3 meters). Fully fueled, with the spacecraft on top, it weighs about 730,000 pounds (333,000 kilograms).

    Thermally stable kerosene fuel (type RP-1) and liquid oxygen are 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. Named for the famous Isaac Newton, a newton is a unit of force required to accelerate a mass of one kilogram, one meter per second... every second!

    During this phase, the spacecraft accelerates to supersonic speeds of about 10,000 mph (4,500 meters per second).

    Major elements of the Atlas V-401 rocket used for InSight are:

    Stage 1: Atlas Rocket

    Stage 2: Centaur

    Payload Fairing