Encyclopedia Astronautica
Bell 8048

Agena A Stage
Credit: © Mark Wade
Bell Nitric acid/UDMH rocket engine. 68.9 kN. Out of production. Isp=276s. Used on Agena A, derived from Rascal engine. Regeneratively cooled; used drilled holes to create the same effect as more costly stacked spaghetti rubes. First flight 1959.

Harry Meyers made a major contribution to the development of Bell's Rascal and Agena engines. Although both of these engines were made of aluminum, the Agena started with a thick walled cylinder, and used a series of adjacent 3/16 inch drilled holes to create the same effect as stacked spaghetti rubes. These thrust chambers were coated, and worked well in the Agena engine.

Engine: 127 kg (279 lb). Chamber Pressure: 10.00 bar. Area Ratio: 20. Propellant Formulation: RFNA/UDMH. Thrust to Weight Ratio: 55.3622047244095. Coefficient of Thrust vacuum: 2.03929071027152.

AKA: LR81-B-1.
Status: Out of production.
Unfuelled mass: 127 kg (279 lb).
Height: 2.16 m (7.08 ft).
Diameter: 1.52 m (4.98 ft).
Thrust: 68.90 kN (15,489 lbf).
Specific impulse: 276 s.
Burn time: 120 s.
Number: 20 .

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Associated Countries
See also
Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Thor Agena A American orbital launch vehicle. Two stage vehicle consisting of 1 x Thor DM-18A + 1 x Agena A More...
  • Atlas Agena A American orbital launch vehicle. Atlas D + 1 x Agena A upper stage. Agena originally called 'Hustler', based on engine for cancelled rocket-propelled nuclear warhead pod for B-58 Hustler bomber. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Bell American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. ARC Liquid Propellant Division, Niagara Falls, NY, USA. More...

Associated Propellants
  • Nitric acid/UDMH Drawing on the German World War II Wasserfall rocket, nitric acid (HNO3) became the early storable oxidiser of choice for missiles and upper stages of the 1950's. To overcome various problems with its use, it was necessary to combine the nitric acid with N2O4 and passivation compounds. These formulae were considered extremely secret at the time. By the late 1950's it was apparent that N2O4 by itself was a better oxidiser. Therefore nitric acid was almost entirely replaced by pure N2O4 in storable liquid fuel rocket engines developed after 1960. Unsymmetrical Dimethylhydrazine ((CH3)2NNH2) became the storable liquid fuel of choice by the mid-1950's. Development of UDMH in the Soviet Union began in 1949. It is used in virtually all storable liquid rocket engines except for some orbital manoeuvring engines in the United States, where MMH has been preferred due to a slightly higher density and performance. More...

Associated Stages
  • Agena A Nitric acid/UDMH propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 3,790/885 kg. Thrust 68.95 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 276 seconds. The Agena space vehicle was used in large numbers during the 1960s and 1970s as upper stage with SLV-2 Thor, SLV-3 Atlas and SLV-5 Titan boosters to launch a variety of military and civilian payloads into orbit. The Agena itself was actually the first general-purpose satellite, and formed the core for many operational satellites and experimental space vehicles. More...

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