Encyclopedia Astronautica
Thor Able II


American orbital launch vehicle. Two stage vehicle consisting of 1 x Thor DM-18A + 1 x Able 2/AJ10-42

Failures: 2. First Fail Date: 1959-01-23. Last Fail Date: 1959-09-17.

Status: Retired 1960.
Gross mass: 52,000 kg (114,000 lb).
Height: 27.30 m (89.50 ft).
Diameter: 2.44 m (8.00 ft).
Thrust: 668.00 kN (150,172 lbf).
Apogee: 1,600 km (900 mi).
First Launch: 1959.01.23.
Last Launch: 1960.04.01.
Number: 9 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • Transit American navigation satellite. 46 launches, 1959.09.17 (Transit 1A) to 1988.08.25 (Transit O-31). The Transit Navigation System began development in 1958. More...
  • TIROS American earth weather satellite. 12 launches, 1960.04.01 (Tiros 1) to 1966.02.28 (ESSA 2). TIROS spacecraft were the beginning of a long series of polar-orbiting meteorological satellites. More...

See also
  • Delta The Delta launch vehicle was America's longest-lived, most reliable, and lowest-cost space launch vehicle. Development began in 1955 and it continued in service in the 21st Century despite numerous candidate replacements. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Douglas American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Boeing Huntington Beach, Huntington Beach, CA, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • Tiros TIROS spacecraft were the beginning of a long series of polar-orbiting meteorological satellites. TIROS was followed by the TOS (TIROS Operational System) series, and then the ITOS (Improved TIROS) series, and later the NOAA series. TIROS spacecraft were developed by GSFC and managed by ESSA (Environmental Science Services Administration). The objective was to establish a global weather satellite system. More...
  • Transit Spin-stabilized Transit satellites were developed by the US Navy into the first operational navigation satellite system, for use by ballistic missile submarines and surface vessels. Early Transits carried a variety of piggy-back payloads, many still classified. Transit was also known as the Navy Navigation Satellite (NNS). Transit provided continuous navigation satellite service from 1964, initially for Polaris submarines and later for civilian use. More...

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC17A Delta launch complex. Part of a dual launch pad complex built for the Thor ballistic missile program in 1956. Pad 17A supported Thor, Delta, and Delta II launches into the 21st Century. More...

Associated Stages
  • Able Nitric acid/UDMH propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 1,884/429 kg. Thrust 34.69 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 270 seconds. Engine for Vanguard was AJ10-37; for later Able models AJ10-41 and AJ10-42. Total of 21 stages built and delivered by Aerojet. More...
  • Thor DM-19 Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 49,340/3,125 kg. Thrust 758.71 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 282 seconds. More...

Thor Able II Chronology


1959 January 23 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. Launch Vehicle: Thor Able II. LV Configuration: Thor Able II 128.
  • RVX-1 - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1959 January 23 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Able II. LV Configuration: Thor Able II 128. FAILURE: Failure.
  • RVX-1 Re-entry Vehicle test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1959 February 28 - . 07:58 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Able II. LV Configuration: Thor Able II 131.
  • RVX-1 Re-entry Vehicle test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 520 km (320 mi).

1959 March 21 - . 06:19 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Able II. LV Configuration: Thor Able II 132.
  • RVX-1 Re-entry Vehicle test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 520 km (320 mi).

1959 April 8 - . 06:35 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Able II. LV Configuration: Thor Able II 133.
  • RVX-1 Reentry test / particles mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 1,230 km (760 mi).

1959 May 21 - . 06:40 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Able II. LV Configuration: Thor Able II 135.
  • RVX-1 Re-entry Vehicle test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 520 km (320 mi).

1959 June 11 - . 06:44 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Able II. LV Configuration: Thor Able II 137.
  • RVX-1 Re-entry Vehicle test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 520 km (320 mi).

1959 September 17 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Able II. LV Configuration: Thor Able II-M1 136. FAILURE: Third stage failed.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Transit 1A - . Payload: Transit 1A. Mass: 119 kg (262 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: DARPA. Program: Transit. Class: Navigation. Type: Navigation satellite. Spacecraft: Transit. Decay Date: 1959-09-17 . COSPAR: F590917A. Summary: First Transit test satellite; failed to reach orbit..

1960 April 1 - . 11:40 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Able II. LV Configuration: Thor Able II-M1 148.
  • Tiros 1 - . Payload: Tiros A (A-1). Mass: 120 kg (260 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Tiros. Class: Earth. Type: Weather satellite. Spacecraft: Tiros. USAF Sat Cat: 29 . COSPAR: 1960-Beta-2. Apogee: 696 km (432 mi). Perigee: 656 km (407 mi). Inclination: 48.4000 deg. Period: 98.30 min. Summary: TV and Infrared Observation Satellite; returned 22952 cloud cover photos. Spacecraft engaged in practical applications and uses of space technology such as weather or communication (US Cat C)..

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