Encyclopedia Astronautica
Atlas



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Atlas Family
From left - MX-774 of 1946; MX-1593 of 1953; Atlas A, B, D; Atlas Agena D; Atlas Centaur; Atlas I, IIA, IIAS, IIIA, IIIB, V
Credit: © Mark Wade
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MX-774
Credit: © Mark Wade
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MX-774
MX-774 in its gantry.
Credit: Ronald Wade
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Atlas 1953 5-engine
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Atlas B
Credit: US Air Force
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Atlas B
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Atlas D OV
Atlas D OV-1 (2x) - COSPAR 1966-111
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Atlas manned lab
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Atlas D ICBM
Credit: © Thomas Kladiva - Thomas Kladiva
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Atlas D Mercury BW
Credit: NASA
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Atlas D
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Atlas D Mercury
Credit: NASA
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Mercury Atlas 9
Credit: NASA
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Mercury Atlas 5
Credit: NASA
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Atlas E
Atlas E - COSPAR 1991-032
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Atlas E
Credit: US Air Force
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Atlas F
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Atlas D Able
Credit: © Thomas Kladiva - Thomas Kladiva
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Atlas Burner 2A
Atlas Burner 2A - COSPAR 1972-076
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Atlas D Midas
Credit: © Thomas Kladiva - Thomas Kladiva
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Atlas Agena A
Credit: US Air Force
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Atlas Agena A
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Atlas D Samos
Credit: © Thomas Kladiva - Thomas Kladiva
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Atlas D Agena B
Credit: © Thomas Kladiva - Thomas Kladiva
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Atlas Agena B
Atlas Agena B - COSPAR 1962 Eta
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Atlas D Mercury Lab
Credit: © Thomas Kladiva - Thomas Kladiva
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Atlas Agena D
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Agenhgre
Agena D stages in process, Hangar E, Cape Canaveral
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Atlas ATDA
Credit: US Air Force
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Atlas Agena D
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Atlas Agena
Last Atlas Agena - Agena s/n P113 - 6 April 1978
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Atlas Agena
First Atlas Agena - Agena s/n 1008 - Midas 1
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Agena D
Agena D rocket stage being raised for mating with Atlas launch vehicle
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Atlas Agena
Atlas Agena / Ranger C launch vehicle
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Atlas D ATS
Credit: © Thomas Kladiva - Thomas Kladiva
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SLV-3C Centaur
SLV-3C Centaur AC-17 - COSPAR 1968-068
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Atlas Centaur
Atlas Centaur at Sunrise
Credit: Lockheed Martin
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Atlas Centaur SLV-3D
Credit: © Thomas Kladiva - Thomas Kladiva
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Atlas Centaur No. 40
Credit: Lockheed Martin
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Atlas 2
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Atlas Centaur
Centaur Launch Vehicle
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Atlas Centaur No.69
Credit: Lockheed Martin
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Atlas 2AS
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Atlas LV
Atlas LV-3C s/n AC-3 - 1964-06-30
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Atlas Centaur C
Credit: © Mark Wade
The Atlas rocket, originally developed as America's first ICBM, was the basis for most early American space exploration and was that country's most successful medium-lift commercial launch vehicle. It launched America's first astronaut into orbit; the first generations of spy satellites; the first lunar orbiters and landers; the first probes to Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn; and was America's most successful commercial launcher of communications satellites. Its innovative stage-and-a-half and 'balloon tank' design provided the best dry-mass fraction of any launch vehicle ever built. It was retired in 2004 after 576 launches in a 47-year career.

Atlas began with a US Army Air Corps request for proposal in October 1945 for long-range missile designs. By 10 January 1946, Consolidated-Vultee's engineers, under the leadership of Belgian-born Karel Bossart, submitted their proposals for two 6,000-nautical mile missiles: one subsonic, winged, and jet powered; the other supersonic, ballistic, and rocket powered. New technologies proposed for the ballistic missile included extremely low structural weight through use of steel monocoque single-wall construction tanks, kept rigid by internal tank pressure; gimbaled rocket engines; a detachable warhead section; and nearly single-stage to orbit performance through the ‘stage-and-a-half' approach of jettisoning the booster engines during the ascent.

On 19 April Convair received a contract for $1,893,000 to fabricate and test ten MX-774 Hiroc missiles to verify Bossart's innovative ballistic missile concepts. Captive testing of the MX-774 research rockets began in San Diego in 1947. In June, Consolidated Vultee was notified that it had lost the cruise missile competition; Northrop and Martin received contracts for development of their subsonic jet-powered cruise missile designs. Defense cutbacks forced the Air Force to terminate the MX-774 contract in July 1947, only three months before the first scheduled flight. The remaining contract funds allowed three MX-774's to be test-launched at White Sands Proving Ground in July-December 1947. Further work at Convair was reduced to ‘Mafia' low-level design activity using company funds.

The outbreak of the Korean war and the beginning of the cold war loosened the federal purse strings. Convair received a new contract (MX-1593) in September 1951 to begin design of a ballistic missile incorporating the design features validated by the MX-774. In 1953 the now-Convair Division of General Dynamics presented a plan to the Air Force for an accelerated program.

A major propulsion problem in the early 1950's was that liquid rocket motor ignition reliability was less than 50 percent. This led to the stage-and-a-half concept, with all engines ignited prior to lift-off and the booster engines jettisoned during flight. This allowed confirmation that all engines were functioning correctly before releasing the missile for flight.

A full go-ahead for the Atlas design was ordered in January 1955 as Weapon System WS107A-l. At Convair the project was known the Model 7 (in Russia, Korolev was working on the competing R-7 ICBM - evidently both sides wanted to use the lucky number). In September 1955, faced with intelligence reports of Russian progress on their ICBM, the Atlas received the highest national development priority. The project became one of the largest and most complex production, testing, and construction programs ever undertaken. The first propulsion system and component tests were conducted in June 1956; the first captive and flight-test missiles were completed later the same year.

The first Atlas A flight took place on 11 June 1957. In a tremendous national effort, by 1959 a peak of 33,000 personnel were working on the project. Total cost of the Atlas ICBM program to the United States was $8 billion. About a quarter of this went to Convair to design and develop the missile and launch facilities. The balance was for the tremendous cost of the ICBM launch facilities. For all of this effort, the Atlas was quickly obsolete, and the facilities were closed by 1966 after five years of service. However surplus ICBM's were stored, refurbished, and used as space launch vehicles until the last was flown in 1995 - 33 years after it was manufactured.

The first operational missile, the Atlas D, was the basis for launching the Mercury manned spacecraft into orbit. By use of Agena and Centaur upper stages, the Atlas became the medium-lift workhorse of American manned, reconnaissance, planetary, and geosynchronous-orbit space programs. After the retirement of the Atlas-Agena in 1978, the Centaur stage became standard on Atlas launch vehicles.

Centaur began with a contract awarded to General Dynamics by the Advanced Research Project Agency in 1958. The first space vehicle to use liquid hydrogen, Centaur was a pioneering project that solved the many technical problems of using the super-cryogenic and highly volatile fuel. Pratt & Whitney Aircraft was awarded the contract to develop Centaur's RL-10 engines. The US Air Force had already built the first large-quantity liquid hydrogen production facility for the deep black Suntan reconnaissance program.

In 1962, with the hydrogen propulsion technology being vital to the success of the Apollo program, Centaur management was transferred to NASA's Lewis Research Center. Lewis had fired their first experimental Lox/LH2 engine of 5,000 pounds thrust in 1953. The Centaur project was given the highest DX priority, but suffered delays due to management problems at both NASA and Convair. The first successful flight of Centaur atop Atlas occurred in November 1963. However thereafter von Braun's Saturn S-IV stage, using six of the RL-10 motors, leapfrogged the Centaur program . By the time of the first operational Centaur mission in May 1966, the S-IV had already completed its test series of six orbital flights. Yet thirty years later, the Saturn was long gone, and the Centaur continued, having been launched or planned for launch from Atlas, Titan, Delta, and Shuttle vehicles. Production continued into the 21st century, and no replacement for the RL-10 engine, the ultimate engine using the ultimate propellants, was ever put into production.

Failures: 120. Success Rate: 79.49%. First Fail Date: 1948-07-14. Last Fail Date: 1993-03-25. Launch data is: complete. Development Cost $: 2,230.000 million. Recurring Price $: 8.309 million in 1965 dollars. Flyaway Unit Cost $: 1.800 million in 1965 dollars.

Status: Retired 2004.
First Launch: 1948.07.14.
Last Launch: 2004.08.31.
Number: 585 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • SAINT American military anti-satellite system. Cancelled 1963. More...
  • Score American communications technology satellite. One launch, 1958.12.18. Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment; first communications satellite; transmitted taped messages for 13 days. More...
  • Aeronutronics Project 7969 American manned spacecraft. Study 1958. Aeronutronics' proposal for the Air Force initial manned space project was a cone-shaped vehicle 2.1 m in diameter with a spherical tip of 30 cm radius. It does not seem to have been seriously considered. More...
  • Convair Project 7969 American manned spacecraft. Study 1958. Convair's proposal for the Air Force initial manned space project involved a large-scale manned space station. When pressed, they indicated that a minimum vehicle - a 450 kg, 1. More...
  • Lockheed Project 7969 American manned spacecraft. Study 1958. Lockheed's proposal for the Air Force initial manned space project was a 20 degree semiapex angle cone with a hemispherical tip of 30 cm radius. The pilot was in a sitting position facing rearward. More...
  • McDonnell Project 7969 American manned spacecraft. Study 1958. McDonnell's design for the Air Force initial manned space project was a ballistic vehicle coordinated with Faget's NACA proposal and resembling the later Soviet Soyuz descent module. More...
  • Outpost American manned space station. Study 1958. In 1958, the year after Sputnik 1, Krafft Ehricke, then with General Dynamics' Convair Division, designed a four-man space station known as Outpost. More...
  • Project Mer American manned spacecraft. Study 1956. April 1958 design of the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics for a Manned Earth Reconnaissance spacecraft - consisting of a cylindrical fuselage and telescoping, inflatable wings for flight in the atmosphere. More...
  • Mercury American manned spacecraft. 18 launches, 1960.01.21 (Mercury LJ-1B) to 1963.05.15 (Mercury MA-9). America's first man-in-space project. The capsule had to be as small as possible to match the orbital payload capability of America's first ICBM, the Atlas. More...
  • Pioneer P 3 American lunar orbiter. 4 launches, 1959.11.26 (Pioneer (P 3)) to 1960.12.15 (Pioneer (P 31)). The least successful lunar spacecraft; none even achieved orbit in four attempts. More...
  • Mercury Space Suit American space suit, operational 1960. The Mercury spacesuit was a custom-fitted, modified version of the Goodrich U.S. Navy Mark IV high altitude jet aircraft pressure suit. More...
  • Midas American military early warning satellite. 18 launches, 1960.02.26 (Midas 1) to 1966.10.05 (Midas 12). Part of a then-secret USAF program known as WS-117L, the MIDAS (Missile Defense Alarm System) program began in November 1958. More...
  • Samos American military surveillance satellite. 17 launches, 1960.10.11 (Samos 1) to 1962.11.11 (Samos 11). First generation photo surveillance; return of camera and film by capsule; program still partially classified, evidently due to embarrassment. More...
  • Gemini American manned spacecraft. 12 launches, 1964.04.08 (Gemini 1) to 1966.11.11 (Gemini 12). It was obvious to NASA that there was a big gap of three to four years between the last Mercury flight and the first scheduled Apollo flight. More...
  • Ranger 1-2 American lunar impact probe. 2 launches, 1961.08.23 (Ranger 1) to 1961.11.18 (Ranger 2). More...
  • Westford Needles American passive communications satellite. 3 launches, 1961.10.21 (Westford) to 1963.05.09 (Westford). In an attempt to lay a radio-reflective ring around the world, small metal dipole needles were allowed to sublimate out of a matrix. More...
  • Mariner R American Venus probe. Study 1961. Planned 1961 JPL crash program to beat the Soviet Union in launching the first probe to another planet. More...
  • SECOR American earth geodetic satellite. 13 launches, 1962.01.24 (Secor) to 1969.04.14 (SECOR 13). More...
  • Ranger 3-4-5 American lunar lander. 3 launches, 1962.01.26 (Ranger 3) to 1962.10.18 (Ranger 5). More...
  • Mariner 1-2 American Venus probe. 2 launches, 1962.07.22 (Mariner 1) to 1962.08.27 (Mariner 2). The world's first successful interplanetary spacecraft. More...
  • ERS American earth magnetosphere satellite. 7 launches, 1962.09.17 (TRS) to 1967.04.28. Environmental Research Satellites were especially designed for piggyback launching from large primary mission vehicles. More...
  • Orbital Workshop American manned space station. Study 1965. The Orbital Workshop (OWS) was a 1960's NASA program to create an embryonic space station in orbit using the spent S-IVB rocket stage of a Saturn IB. More...
  • SSF American military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. 54 launches, 1963.03.18 (P-11 No. 1) to 1989.08.08 (USA 41). More...
  • Dash American military technology satellite. 2 launches, 1963.05.09 (Dash 1) and 1963.07.18 (Dash 2). Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology. More...
  • TRS American technology satellite. 5 launches, 1963.05.09 (TRS 2) to 1964.07.17 (TRS 6). TRS satellites undertook a range of engineering experiments related to radiation-hardening of solar cells and spacecraft electronics. More...
  • KH-7 American military surveillance satellite. 43 launches, 1963.07.12 (KH 7-01 (Gambit)) to 1967.06.04 (KH 7-38). US reconnaissance satellite. Still classified. Camera believed to have ground resolution of 0.46 m. Film returned in two capsules. More...
  • Vela American nuclear detection surveillance satellite. 6 launches, 1963.10.17 (Vela 2) to 1965.07.20 (Vela 6). The Vela (meaning "watchman" in Spanish) series of spacecraft were designed to monitor world-wide compliance with the 1963 nuclear test ban treaty. More...
  • Surveyor American lunar lander. 13 launches, 1963.11.27 (Atlas Centaur 2) to 1968.01.07 (Surveyor 7). Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Surveyor series soft-landed on the moon, provided images of the lunar surface, and tested the characteristics of the lunar soil. More...
  • Ranger 6-7-8-9 American lunar impact probe. 4 launches, 1964.01.30 (Ranger 6) to 1965.03.21 (Ranger 9). After a series of failures with the more ambitious early Ranger spacecraft, the design was simplified and the lander was deleted. More...
  • FIRE American re-entry vehicle technology satellite. 2 launches, 1964.04.14 (FIRE 1) and 1965.05.22 (FIRE 2). Suborbital re-entry test program that used a subscale model of the Apollo Command Module to verify the configuration at high reentry speed. More...
  • OGO American earth magnetosphere satellite. 6 launches, 1964.09.05 (OGO 1) to 1969.06.05 (OGO 6). More...
  • Calsphere American military target satellite. 11 launches, 1964.10.06 (Calsphere 1) to 1971.02.17 (Calsphere 5). Radar calibration objects (but also cover for other classified subsatellites). More...
  • Surveyor Block II American lunar lander. Study 1964. The Surveyor Block II spacecraft was imagined as an unmanned scout that could reconnoiter a specific lunar landing site for Apollo and assist the manned Lunar Module in making a precise touch down. More...
  • Mariner 3-4 American Mars flyby probe. 2 launches, 1964.11.05 (Mariner 3) to 1964.11.28 (Mariner 4). This spacecraft completed the first successful flyby of the planet Mars, returning the first pictures of the Martian surface. More...
  • OV1 American earth magnetosphere satellite. 27 launches, 1965.01.21 (OV1-1) to 1971.08.07 (OV1-21P). More...
  • Surveyor Lunar Rover American lunar rover. Cancelled 1965. Follow-on Surveyor unmanned lunar landers were to deploy small nuclear-powered rovers (a carry-over from the cancelled Prospector spacecraft). More...
  • Snapshot American ion engine technology satellite. One launch, 1965.04.03. Carried SNAP-9A nuclear power source. The on-board reactor provided electrical power for a 2.2-lb ion engine. More...
  • LCS American military target satellite. 3 launches, 1965.05.06 (LCS 1) to 1971.08.07 (LCS 4). Aluminum sphere used for radar calibration. More...
  • Surveyor Orbiter American lunar orbiter. Study 1965. NASA originally planned to have a version of the Surveyor spacecraft conduct detailed orbital photographic reconnaissance of the moon in preparation for the Apollo manned landings. More...
  • Bluebell American military target satellite. 2 launches, 1966.02.15 (Bluebell 2C (Cylinder)) and (Bluebell 2S (Sphere)). Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology. More...
  • OAO American visible astronomy satellite. 4 launches, 1966.04.08 (OAO 1) to 1972.08.21 (OAO 3). More...
  • Atlas Target Docking Adapter American logistics spacecraft. One launch, 1966.06.01, Gemini 9 ATDA. An unpowered Gemini docking collar less the Agena rocket stage, launched one time by an Atlas when the Agena stage was not available. Fairing separation failed. More...
  • Lunar Orbiter American lunar orbiter. 5 launches, 1966.08.10 (Lunar Orbiter 1) to 1967.08.01 (Lunar Orbiter 5). Photography of the moon's surface from selenocentric orbit. The Lunar Orbiter series took photos of lunar surface from selenocentric orbit. More...
  • ATS-1 American communications technology satellite. One launch, 1966.12.07, ATS 1. During its 18 year lifetime, ATS-1 examined spin stabilization techniques, investigated the geostationary environment, and performed several communications experiments. More...
  • Prime American manned spaceplane. 3 launches, 1966.12.21 (Prime 1) to 1967.04.19 (Prime 3). The Prime (Precision Recovery Including Maneuvering Entry) project was the second part of the USAF START program. More...
  • ATS-2 American communications technology satellite. One launch, 1967.04.06, ATS 2. ATS-2 was placed into an undesirable orbit due to a launch vehicle failure. More...
  • OV5 American earth magnetosphere satellite. 8 launches, 1967.04.28 (OV5-03) to 1969.05.23 (OV5-09). OV5 was a version of the USAF Environmental Research Satellites dedicated to radiation research and VLF plasma wave detection. More...
  • Mariner 5 American Venus probe. One launch, 1967.06.14. Mariner 5 was a refurbished backup spacecraft for the Mariner 4 Mars mission converted to fly a Venus mission. More...
  • ATS-3 American communications technology satellite. One launch, 1967.11.05, ATS 3. The goals for ATS-3 included investigations of spin stabilization techniques and VHF and C-band communications experiments. More...
  • Canyon American military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. 7 launches, 1968.08.06 (Canyon 1) to 1977.05.23 (Canyon 7). The first large US signals intelligence satellite. More...
  • ATS-4 American communications technology satellite. One launch, 1968.08.10, ATS 4. A launch vehicle failure stranded ATS-4 in a much lower than planned orbit, making the satellite nearly useless. More...
  • RM American earth micrometeoroid satellite. 2 launches, 1968.08.16 (RM-18) and 1970.11.09 (RM-1; RMS). Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space. More...
  • Orbiscal American earth ionosphere satellite. 7 launches, 1968.08.16 (AVL-802 Grid Sphere 7-1) to (AVL-802 Grid Sphere 7-1). Investigate effects of ionosphere on radio signals. More...
  • RADCAT American military technology satellite. 2 launches, 1968.08.16 (Radcat) and 1972.10.02 (RADCAT). Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology. More...
  • Boost Glide Re-entry Vehicle American re-entry vehicle technology satellite. Study 1968. The Boost Glide Re-entry Vehicle investigated related technological problems, particularly hypersonic maneuvering after re-entry into the atmosphere. More...
  • Mariner 6-7 American Mars flyby probe. 2 launches, 1969.02.25 (Mariner 6) to 1969.03.27 (Mariner 7). Mariner 6 and 7 comprised a dual-spacecraft mission to Mars. More...
  • ATS-5 American communications technology satellite. One launch, 1969.08.12, ATS 5. More...
  • Rhyolite American military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. 4 launches, 1970.06.19 (Rhyolite 1) to 1978.04.07 (Rhyolite 4). More...
  • Intelsat 4 American communications satellite. 8 launches, 1971.01.26 (Intelsat 4 F-2) to 1975.05.22 (Intelsat 4 F-1). The Intelsat 4 series continued the growth of the Intelsat communications network. More...
  • Mariner 8-9 American Mars orbiter. 2 launches, 1971.05.09 (Mariner H) to 1971.05.30 (Mariner 9). The Mariner Mars 71 mission was planned to consist of two spacecraft on complementary missions. More...
  • Cannonball American military target satellite. One launch, 1971.08.07. Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology. More...
  • Gridsphere American technology satellite. 2 launches, 1971.08.07 (Gridsphere 1) and (Gridsphere 2). Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology. More...
  • Rigidsphere American military target satellite. One launch, 1971.08.07. Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology. More...
  • Musketball American technology satellite. One launch, 1971.08.07. Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology. More...
  • Mylar American technology satellite. One launch, 1971.08.07. Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology. More...
  • NOSS American military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. 22 launches, 1971.12.14 (OPS 7898 P/L 1) to 1993.08.02 (TLD). Ocean surveillance; aka White Cloud type spacecraft; Navy Ocean Surveillance Satellite; PARCAE. More...
  • Pioneer 10-11 American outer planets probe. 2 launches, 1972.03.03 (Pioneer 10) to 1973.04.06 (Pioneer 11). Pioneers 10 and 11 were the first spacecraft to fly by Jupiter (Pioneer 10 and 11) and Saturn (Pioneer 11 only). More...
  • Radsat American military technology satellite. One launch, 1972.10.02. Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology. More...
  • NTS American navigation technology satellite. 2 launches, 1974.07.14 (NTS 1) and 1977.06.23 (NTS 2). Demonstrated navigation technologies. More...
  • P 72 American military technology satellite. One launch, 1975.04.13. Unknown satellite lost on a single Atlas launch failure. Evidently not repeated. More...
  • Spacebus 100 French communications satellite. 12 launches, 1975.08.26 (Symphonie 2) to 1994.01.24 (Eutelsat II F5). 3-axis stabilized using bipropellant thrusters (750 kg propellant - unified with apogee insertion and maneuvering propulsion) and momentum wheels. More...
  • Intelsat 4A American communications satellite. 10 launches, 1975.09.26 (Intelsat 4A F-1) to 1981.02.21 (Comstar 4). Intelsat 4A satellites increased satellite capacity to 7250 voice circuits or 2 TV channels. More...
  • NOSS-Subsat American military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. 27 launches, 1976.04.30 (SSU 1 (NOSS 1)) to 1996.05.12 (USA 121). Detected the location of naval vessels using radio interferometry. More...
  • HEAO American x-ray astronomy satellite. 3 launches, 1977.08.12 (HEAO 1) to 1979.09.20 (HEAO 3). The 3 satellites of the High Energy Astronomical Observatory program surveyed the celestial sphere for X-ray sources and gamma and cosmic ray phenomena. More...
  • FLTSATCOM American military communications satellite. 8 launches, 1978.02.09 (Fltsatcom 1) to 1989.09.25 (USA 46). More...
  • GPS Block 1 American navigation satellite. 11 launches, 1978.02.22 (Navstar 1) to 1985.10.09 (USA 10). GPS Block 1 prototype satellites formed the GPS Demonstration system and were followed by the Block 2 operational system. More...
  • Pioneer 12 American Venus probe. One launch, 1978.05.20, Pioneer Venus Orbiter. Pioneer Venus Orbiter. Part of the Pioneer program Pioneer Venus Orbiter was designed to perform long-term observations of the Venusian atmosphere and surface features. More...
  • Seasat American earth resources radar satellite. One launch, 1978.06.27. Seasat was the first satellite designed for remote sensing of the Earth's oceans with synthetic aperture radar (SAR). More...
  • Pioneer 13 American Venus probe. 5 launches, 1978.08.08 (Pioneer Venus 2) to (Pioneer Venus Probe 4). The Pioneer Venus Multiprobe consisted of a bus which carried one large and three small atmospheric probes. More...
  • Tiros N American earth weather satellite. 6 launches, 1978.10.13 (Tiros N) to 2002.06.24 (NOAA 17). Tiros N was part of the ongoing US series of polar-orbiting weather satellites. These were preceded by the TIROS series and the ITOS (Improved TIROS) series. More...
  • Solwind American earth magnetosphere satellite. One launch, 1979.02.24. Ionosphere and magnetosphere studies; destroyed 9/13/85 (while still functioning) as part of ASAT test. More...
  • HS 376 American communications satellite. 56 launches, 1980.11.15 (SBS 1) to 2003.09.27 (E-Bird). Mass 654 kg at beginning-of-life in geosynchronous orbit. Spin stabilized at 50 rpm by 4 hydrazine thrusters with 136 kg propellant. More...
  • Intelsat 5 American communications satellite. 9 launches, 1980.12.06 (Intelsat 5 F-2) to 1984.06.09 (Intelsat 5 F-9). The last five of the nine spacecraft in this block carry a maritime mobile payload (seven additional transponders) for lease by Inmarsat. More...
  • LIPS American tether technology satellite. 3 launches, 1980.12.09 (LIPS 1) to 1987.05.15 (LIPS 3). More...
  • AS 3000 American communications satellite. 25 launches, 1981.11.20 (RCA Satcom 4; RCA Satcom 3R) to 1996.01.14 (Koreasat 2). More...
  • DSCS III American military communications satellite. 15 launches, 1982.10.30 (DSCS III-01) to 2003.08.29 (USA 170). DSCS satellites provided secure voice and data communications for the US military. More...
  • DMSP Block 5D-2 American earth weather satellite. 9 launches, 1982.12.21 (AMS 5) to 1997.04.04 (USA 131). DMSP 5D-2 was the military's sixth generation of weather satellites. More...
  • Geosat American earth resources radar satellite. One launch, 1985.03.13. Geosat was a US Navy satellite designed to measure sea surface heights to within 5 cm. More...
  • Intelsat 5A American communications satellite. 6 launches, 1985.03.22 (Intelsat 5A F-10) to 1989.01.27 (Intelsat 5A F-15). The Intelsat 5A series was derived from the Intelsat 5. More...
  • AS 4000 American communications satellite. 8 launches, 1985.11.27 (Satcom K2) to 1998.02.04 (Inmarsat 3 F5). 3-axis stabilization with momentum wheels, magnetic torquers, Earth sensors and 16 blowdown monopropellant hydrazine thrusters. More...
  • Eurostar 2000 French communications satellite. 24 launches, 1988.03.11 (Telecom 1C) to 2006.11.08 (Badr 4 ARABSAT 4B). More...
  • FS-1300 American communications satellite bus. Operational, first launch 1989.06.05. More...
  • HS 601 American communications satellite bus. First launch 1990.01.09. 3-axis unified ARC 22 N and one Marquardt 490 N bipropellant thrusters, Sun and Barnes Earth sensors and two 61 Nms 2-axis gimbaled momentum bias wheels. More...
  • Stacksat P87-2 American technology satellite. 3 launched, 1990.04.11 (USA 56) to (USA 58). The U. S. military's STACKSAT mission involved the launch of three similar spacecraft, POGS, TEX and SCE. More...
  • CRRES American earth magnetosphere satellite. One launch, 1990.07.25. Combined Release and Radiation Effects Satellite. Chemical release experiment. More...
  • AS 5000 American communications satellite. 4 launches, 1991.03.02 (Astra 1B) to 1992.06.10 (Intelsat K). 3-axis stabilization with momentum wheels, magnetic torquers, Earth sensors and 20 blowdown monopropellant hydrazine thrusters. More...
  • AS 7000 American communications satellite. 13 launches, 1993.12.16 (Telstar 401) to 1998.06.18 (Intelsat 805). 3-axis stabilized. Two large solar panels with 1-axis articulation. More...
  • GOES-Next American earth weather satellite. 3 launches, 1994.04.13 (GOES 8) to 1997.04.25 (GOES 10). Geostationary Environmental Satellite. More...
  • SOHO European solar satellite. One launch, 1995.12.02. SOHO was a component of the Collaborative Solar-Terrestrial Research (COSTR) Program of the International Solar Terrestrial Physics (ISTP) Program. More...
  • SAX Italian x-ray astronomy satellite. One launch, 1996.04.30, Beppo SAX. Satellite per Astronomia a raggi X; X-ray celestial observatory More...
  • AS 2100 American communications satellite. Operational, first launch 1996.09.08 (GE 1). Cost per satellite $100 million for the spacecraft including ground support equipment, but not including launch costs. 3-axis stabilized. More...
  • Falcon Gold American navigation technology satellite. One launch, 1997.10.25. US Air Force Academy experiment to demonstrate use of GPS navigation in geosynchronous orbit. More...
  • CAPRICORN American military communications satellite. One launch, 1998.01.29, USA 137. There was no firm information on this classified satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office. More...
  • Terra American earth land resources satellite. One launch, 1999.12.18. NASA's Terra satellite (originally known as Earth Observing System EOS AM-1) was the first spacecraft in the EOS program. More...
  • SDS-3 American military communications satellite, provided data relay services for optical reconnaissance and other military spacecraft. Operational, first launch 2000.12.06. More...
  • NOSS-3 American military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Operational, first launch 2001.09.08. More...

See also
  • Atlas The Atlas rocket, originally developed as America's first ICBM, was the basis for most early American space exploration and was that country's most successful medium-lift commercial launch vehicle. It launched America's first astronaut into orbit; the first generations of spy satellites; the first lunar orbiters and landers; the first probes to Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn; and was America's most successful commercial launcher of communications satellites. Its innovative stage-and-a-half and 'balloon tank' design provided the best dry-mass fraction of any launch vehicle ever built. It was retired in 2004 after 576 launches in a 47-year career. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Convair American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Convair, USA. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Ertel , Ivan D; Morse , Mary Louise; et al, The Apollo Spacecraft Chronology Vol I - IV NASA SP-4009, NASA, 1966-1974. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Emme, Eugene M, Aeronautics and Astronautics: An American Chronology of Science and Technology in the Exploration of Space 1915-1960, NASA, 1961. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Emme, Eugene M, Aeronautical and Astronautical Events of 1961 Report of NASA to the Committee on Science and Astronautics US House of Representatives 87th Cong 2d Sess, NASA, 1962. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Baker, David, The History of Manned Spaceflight, Crown, New York, 1981.
  • Furniss, Tim, Manned Spaceflight Log, Jane's, London, 1986.
  • Gatland, Kenneth, Missiles and Rockets, Macmillan, New York, 1975.
  • Isakowitz, Steven J,, International Reference to Space Launch Systems Second Edition, AIAA, Washington DC, 1991 (succeeded by 2000 edition).
  • Koelle, Heinz Hermann,, Handbook of Astronautical Engineering, McGraw-Hill,New York, 1961.
  • Miller, Jay,, The X-Planes, Aerofax, Arlington, Texas, 1988.
  • Swenson, Grimwood, Alexander, Charles C, This New Ocean, Government Printing Office, 1966. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Turnill, Reginald,, The Observer's Spaceflight Directory, Frederick Warne, London, 1978.
  • Wilson, Andrew, editor,, Jane's/Interavia Space Directory, Jane's Information Group, Coulsdon, Surrey, 1992 et al.
  • Geiger, Jeffrey, Vandenberg AFB Chronology, 30 Space Wing Web, August 1995. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Bramscher, Robert G, "A Survey of Launch Vehicle Failures", Spaceflight, 1980, Volume 22, page 351.
  • Day, Dwayne, "Response to Letter to the Editor", Spaceflight, 1995, Volume 37, page 282.
  • McDowell, Jonathon, "US Reconnaissance Satellite Programs Part 2", Quest, 1995, Volume 4, Issue 4, page 49.
  • NASA GSFC Orbital Parameters,
  • Lockheed Martin Coporation, Atlas Family Fact Sheets, September 1998.. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Launch Log, October 1998. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Nicholas, Ted G., U.S. Missile Data Book, 1983, Seventh Edition, Data Search Associates, Fountain Valley, California, 1982..
  • National Space Science Center Planetary Page, As of 19 February 1999.. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Dorman, Bernie, et. al., Aerojet: The Creative Company, Stuart F Cooper Company, Los Angeles, 1995..
  • Grimwood, James M., Project Mercury: A Chronology, NASA Special Publication-4001.
  • Payne, Philip, Personal communication, December 1, 2000.,
  • NASA/GSFC Orbital Information Group Website, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Space-Launcher.com, Orbital Report News Agency. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Parsch, Andreas, DesignationSystems.Net, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • "Personal communication", Personal communication from family member or person directly involved with the article..
  • Novosti Kosmonavtiki, Issue 200008-68 (via Jonathon McDowell).
  • Walker, Chuck, with Powell, Joel, Atlas - The Ultimate Weapon, Apogee Books, Canada, 2005.

Atlas Chronology


1946 January 11 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas.
  • Strategic Missile Proposals - . Nation: USA. Bids were received in response to the USAAF request for proposal of the previous October. Vultee submitted proposals for two types (glide and ballistic) of 8000-km range missiles. North American proposed a three-year development program for a supersonic 800-km range missile, culminating in a production run of 50 missiles.

1946 April 2 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas.
  • MX-774 strategic missile study contract awarded - . Nation: USA. Summary: Convair received contract W33-038-AC-14168 for a $1.4 million, one-year study of two missile designs..

1946 December - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas.
  • MX-774 Azusa tracking - . Nation: USA. Summary: Study report submitted to Air Force on proposed Azusa tracking/guidance system. MX-774 funding cut back..

Early 1947 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas.
  • MX-774 Azusa tracking tests - . Nation: USA. Summary: Tracking tests started with experimental Azusa equipment.

1947 July 1 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas.
  • MX-774 cancelled. - . Nation: USA. Contract with Convair for the MX-774 "Upper Air Test Vehicle," predecessor of the Atlas ICBM, was cancelled by the AAF. However the service approves Convair use of unexpended MX-774 funds to launch the MX-774 test vehicles already built. The decision made to move Vultee operations to San Diego.

1947 October - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas.
  • First complete MX-774 moved to Pt. Loma for test - . Nation: USA.

1947 November 20 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas.
  • First static firing of MX-774 - . Nation: USA. Summary: Unsuccessful, small fire..

1948 January - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas.
  • Second MX-774 static firing - . Nation: USA. Summary: Successful, at Point Loma..

1948 May 6 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas.
  • MX-774 static firing tests at Pt Loma completed. - . Nation: USA.

1948 June - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas.
  • First MX-774 arrives at White Sands Proving Ground - . Nation: USA.

1949 February - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas.
  • All MX-774 work shut off by Air Force - . Nation: USA.

During 1949 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas.
  • MX-774 unexpended funds run out in 1950. - . Nation: USA. Summary: Convair allocated R&D funds to ICBM studies and marketing, running into 1950.

1965 March 25 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas.
  • Six Atlas squadrons deactivated. - . Nation: USA. Summary: Forbes AFB SMS 548, Warren-3 AFB SMS 549, Altus AFB SMS 577, Dyess AFB SMS 578, Walker AFB SMS 579, and Plattsburgh AFB SMS 556 all deactivated.

1965 June 25 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas.
  • Three Atlas squadrons deactivated. - . Nation: USA. Summary: Fairchild AFB SMS 567, Schilling AFB SMS 550, and Lincoln AFB SMS 551 all deactivated.

1995 June 16 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas.
  • General Dynamics Space Division bought by Martin - . Nation: USA.

1995 June 17 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas.
  • Lockheed Aircraft Corporation merged with Martin to form Lockheed Martin - . Nation: USA. Summary: Atlas assembly line moved from Kearney Mesa, California, to Littleton, Colorado.

1995 September 27 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas.
  • Final Atlas produced in California. - . Nation: USA. Summary: Ceremony commemorating final Atlas (AC-126) produced at Kearny Mesa plant.

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