Encyclopedia Astronautica
Thor Burner



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Thor Burner 1
Credit: US Air Force
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Thor Burner 2
Credit: US Air Force
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Thor Burner
Thor Burner - COSPAR 1965-021. Launched from Vandenberg AFB on St. Patrick's day of 1965. Standing at the launch mount are SGT Lipscomb (deceased as of 2002) and SGT Stovall (still living in Lompoc, CA as of 2002)..
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Thor Burner
Thor Burner - COSPAR 1965-003
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Thor Burner 3
Credit: US Air Force
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Thor Burner Launch 2
Pictures of the second Burner I launch (believed to be from launch pad 6). The first Burner I bird had a black second stage. This was an orbital launch with a permanent orbit, no recovery. I guess the thing is now space junk. A fully successful launch with all objectives met. Launch date was Thursday, March 17, 1965 sometime between 2100hrs and 2105hrs Vandenberg time. The night launch time of 2100 hrs with a 5 minute launch window was the same for both the first and second Burner I launches.
Credit: Larry Rhoads
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Thor Blockhouse
Inside view of the Thor Burner I program block house looking at the launch control consoles (ca 1965).
Credit: Larry Rhoads
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Thor Burner Launch 2
Pictures of the second Burner I launch (believed to be from launch pad 6). The first Burner I bird had a black second stage. This was an orbital launch with a permanent orbit, no recovery. I guess the thing is now space junk. A fully successful launch with all objectives met. Launch date was Thursday, March 17, 1965 sometime between 2100hrs and 2105hrs Vandenberg time. The night launch time of 2100 hrs with a 5 minute launch window was the same for both the first and second Burner I launches.
Credit: Larry Rhoads
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Thor Burner Launch 2
Pictures of the second Burner I launch (believed to be from launch pad 6). The first Burner I bird had a black second stage. This was an orbital launch with a permanent orbit, no recovery. I guess the thing is now space junk. A fully successful launch with all objectives met. Launch date was Thursday, March 17, 1965 sometime between 2100hrs and 2105hrs Vandenberg time. The night launch time of 2100 hrs with a 5 minute launch window was the same for both the first and second Burner I launches.
Credit: Larry Rhoads
American orbital launch vehicle. Thor DM-18A with 'Burner' upper stage solid rocket packages used for launch of classified payloads.

LEO Payload: 770 kg (1,690 lb) in 1985 dollars. Flyaway Unit Cost $: 11.890 million.

Stage Data - Thor Burner

  • Stage 1. 1 x Thor DM-19. Gross Mass: 49,340 kg (108,770 lb). Empty Mass: 3,125 kg (6,889 lb). Thrust (vac): 758.711 kN (170,565 lbf). Isp: 282 sec. Burn time: 165 sec. Isp(sl): 248 sec. Diameter: 2.44 m (8.00 ft). Span: 2.44 m (8.00 ft). Length: 18.42 m (60.43 ft). Propellants: Lox/Kerosene. No Engines: 1. Engine: LR-79-7. Status: Out of Production.
  • Stage 2. 1 x Burner 2. Gross Mass: 774 kg (1,706 lb). Empty Mass: 116 kg (255 lb). Thrust (vac): 43.551 kN (9,791 lbf). Isp: 285 sec. Burn time: 42 sec. Isp(sl): 220 sec. Diameter: 0.66 m (2.16 ft). Span: 0.66 m (2.16 ft). Length: 0.84 m (2.75 ft). Propellants: Solid. No Engines: 1. Engine: Star 37. Status: Out of Production. Burner II was a launch vehicle upper stage developed by Boeing for the Air Force Space Systems Division. It was the first solid-fuel upper stage with full control and guidance capability developed for general space applications. Burner II was designed for use with the Thor booster, but was readily adapted for use on the complete range of standard launch vehicles. Its general assignment was to place small- and medium size payloads into orbit. The Burner II motor, guidance system and reaction control system were integrated to provide attitude stability and precise control of flight rate and burnout velocity for orbital injection and earth-escape missions. Boeing had delivered 8 flight vehicles under its original contract. Under terms of a follow-on contract, it built 6 additional flight models. Four Thor-Burner II combinations were launched successfully from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The third launch placed 2 unclassified satellites in Earth orbit. A SECOR satellite, built for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by the Cubic Corporation, and an Aurora satellite, developed by Rice University for the Office of Naval Research, were placed in circular orbits 3,300 km above the Earth. As integration contractor for the Air Force Space Experiment Support Program (SESP) Office, Boeing designed, built and tested the injection stage, or "payload dispenser," which carried the 2 satellites on top of a standard Burner II stage and placed them in precise orbits. The satellites were mounted on opposite sides of the injection stage, which housed a640 kgf thrust, solid-propellant rocket motor. The Burner II was used as an upper stage by NASA for deep space probes. Prime Contractor: The Boeing Company. Major Subcontractors Thiokol Chemical Corporation (solid rocket motor); Honeywell Inc. (pre-programmed inertial guidance system); Walter Kidde Co. (reaction control system).
  • Stage 3. 1 x Burner 2. Gross Mass: 774 kg (1,706 lb). Empty Mass: 116 kg (255 lb). Thrust (vac): 43.551 kN (9,791 lbf). Isp: 285 sec. Burn time: 42 sec. Isp(sl): 220 sec. Diameter: 0.66 m (2.16 ft). Span: 0.66 m (2.16 ft). Length: 0.84 m (2.75 ft). Propellants: Solid. No Engines: 1. Engine: Star 37. Status: Out of Production. Burner II was a launch vehicle upper stage developed by Boeing for the Air Force Space Systems Division. It was the first solid-fuel upper stage with full control and guidance capability developed for general space applications. Burner II was designed for use with the Thor booster, but was readily adapted for use on the complete range of standard launch vehicles. Its general assignment was to place small- and medium size payloads into orbit. The Burner II motor, guidance system and reaction control system were integrated to provide attitude stability and precise control of flight rate and burnout velocity for orbital injection and earth-escape missions. Boeing had delivered 8 flight vehicles under its original contract. Under terms of a follow-on contract, it built 6 additional flight models. Four Thor-Burner II combinations were launched successfully from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The third launch placed 2 unclassified satellites in Earth orbit. A SECOR satellite, built for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by the Cubic Corporation, and an Aurora satellite, developed by Rice University for the Office of Naval Research, were placed in circular orbits 3,300 km above the Earth. As integration contractor for the Air Force Space Experiment Support Program (SESP) Office, Boeing designed, built and tested the injection stage, or "payload dispenser," which carried the 2 satellites on top of a standard Burner II stage and placed them in precise orbits. The satellites were mounted on opposite sides of the injection stage, which housed a640 kgf thrust, solid-propellant rocket motor. The Burner II was used as an upper stage by NASA for deep space probes. Prime Contractor: The Boeing Company. Major Subcontractors Thiokol Chemical Corporation (solid rocket motor); Honeywell Inc. (pre-programmed inertial guidance system); Walter Kidde Co. (reaction control system).

Status: Out of production.
Gross mass: 51,810 kg (114,220 lb).
Payload: 770 kg (1,690 lb).
Height: 24.00 m (78.00 ft).
Diameter: 2.44 m (8.00 ft).
Thrust: 667.20 kN (149,993 lbf).

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • SECOR American earth geodetic satellite. 13 launches, 1962.01.24 (Secor) to 1969.04.14 (SECOR 13). 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...
  • DMSP Block 4A American earth weather satellite. 13 launches, 1965.01.19 (DMSP-Block-4A F1) to 1969.07.23 (DMSP-Block-4A F13). Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. More...
  • Aurora American earth magnetosphere satellite. One launch, 1967.06.29. Investigated aurora borealis. More...
  • DMSP Block 5A American earth weather satellite. 3 launches, 1970.02.11 (DMSP-Block-5A F1) to 1971.02.17 (DMSP Block 5A F3). Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. More...
  • SESP American military technology satellite. 3 launches, 1971.06.08 (SESP 70-1) to 1976.07.08 (SESP 74-2). Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology. More...
  • DMSP Block 5B American earth weather satellite. 5 launches, 1971.10.14 (DMSP-Block-5B F1) to 1974.03.16 (DMSP-Block-5B F5). Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. More...
  • DMSP Block 5C American earth weather satellite. 3 launches, 1974.08.09 (DMSP-Block-5C F1) to 1976.02.19 (DMSP-Block-5C F3). Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. More...

Associated Engines
  • LR79-7 Rocketdyne Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 758.7 kN. Out of production. Designed for booster applications. Gas generator, pump-fed. Isp=282s. First flight 1957. More...
  • Star 37 Thiokol solid rocket engine. 43.5 kN. Total impulse 161,512 kgf-sec. Motor propellant mass fraction 0.899. Isp=260s. First flight 1963. 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...

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