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Atlas B
Part of Atlas Family
Atlas B
Atlas B
Atlas B - COSPAR 1958-Zeta
American test vehicle. First all-up test version of the Atlas ICBM, with jettisonable booster engines and a single engine sustainer on core - a '1 1/2' stage launch vehicle.

AKA: PGM-16B;SM-65B;X-12. Status: Retired 1959. First Launch: 1958-07-19. Last Launch: 1959-02-04. Number: 10 . Payload: 70 kg (154 lb). Thrust: 1,587.20 kN (356,817 lbf). Gross mass: 110,740 kg (244,130 lb). Height: 26.00 m (85.00 ft). Diameter: 3.05 m (10.00 ft). Apogee: 185 km (114 mi).

LEO Payload: 70 kg (154 lb) to a 185 km orbit at 32.00 degrees. Flyaway Unit Cost 1985$: 14.210 million. Maximum range: 6,000 km (3,700 mi).

Stage Data - Atlas B

  • Stage 0. 1 x Atlas MA-2. Gross Mass: 3,050 kg (6,720 lb). Empty Mass: 3,050 kg (6,720 lb). Thrust (vac): 1,517.422 kN (341,130 lbf). Isp: 282 sec. Burn time: 135 sec. Isp(sl): 248 sec. Diameter: 4.90 m (16.00 ft). Span: 4.90 m (16.00 ft). Length: 0.0000 m ( ft). Propellants: Lox/Kerosene. No Engines: 2. Engine: XLR-89-5. Status: Out of Production.
  • Stage 1. 1 x Atlas B. Gross Mass: 107,610 kg (237,230 lb). Empty Mass: 3,980 kg (8,770 lb). Thrust (vac): 363.218 kN (81,655 lbf). Isp: 309 sec. Burn time: 240 sec. Isp(sl): 215 sec. Diameter: 3.05 m (10.00 ft). Span: 4.90 m (16.00 ft). Length: 21.90 m (71.80 ft). Propellants: Lox/Kerosene. No Engines: 1. Engine: XLR-105-5. Status: Out of Production.


More at: Atlas B.

Family: pad-launched, test vehicle. Country: USA. Engines: XLR105-5, XLR89-5. Spacecraft: Score. Launch Sites: Cape Canaveral, Cape Canaveral LC14, Cape Canaveral LC11, Cape Canaveral LC13. Stages: Atlas MA-2, Atlas B stage. Agency: Convair.
Photo Gallery

Atlas A/B/DAtlas A/B/D
Test missiles Atlas A and Atlas B; Atlas D-Mercury
Credit: © Mark Wade


Atlas BAtlas B
Credit: US Air Force


Atlas BAtlas B
Credit: © Mark Wade



1955 June 28 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas B.
  • Quarles Committee studies best method of furnishing the United States with a sattelite by end of 1958. - . Related Persons: Quarles, Schriever. Spacecraft Bus: Man-In-Space-Soonest. Spacecraft: Man-In-Space-Soonest, SCORE.

    A committee, appointed by Secretary of the Air Force, D. A. Quarles, to recommend the best method of furnishing the United States with a satellite between the dates of June and December 1958, was briefed at Western Development Division (WDD). The Atlas project was reviewed and the potential of Atlas as a booster vehicle in a selected satellite system was presented. The committee was advised that WDD was qualified to manage the program if so directed but that such a program would interfere, to some extent with the high priority of the Atlas development effort. (Memo, Col C. H. Terhune, Dep Cmdr Tech Opns, WDD, to Brig Gen B. A. Schriever, Cmdr WDD, 28 Jun 55, subj: Visit of DOD Satellite Committee, 28 Jun 55.)


1957 September - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas B.
  • Scheduled design complete (95%) for Atlas B-series missiles - . Nation: USA.

1958 July 19 - . 17:36 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC11. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas B. FAILURE: Flight Control Failure. Failed Stage: G.
  • Research and development test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 10 km (6 mi).

    The initial Atlas Series B missile flight test vehicle (3B) malfuncticr.ed and broke up 60 seconds after launch from the Air Force Missile Test Center at Cape Canaveral. To the basic Series A airframe, the Series B missiles added the complete North American Aviation MA-1 propulsion cluster of booster and sustainer engines, General Electric's Mod II airborne radio inertial guidance system (open loop), and GE's Mark II nose cone. First full-powered flight of USAF Atlas B ICBM using both the sustainer and booster engines. 'Marginally successful'.


1958 August 2 - . 22:16 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC13. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas B.
  • Research and development test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 900 km (550 mi).

    The first successful flight test of a Series B Atlas missile. This was also the first successful staging of a long-range missile. (AF Ballistic Missiles Program Status Report.) Flight test missile 4B was the first Atlas Series B missile to be launched successfully and the first ICBM to complete staging. Its 2,500-mile powered flight was the first time that the MA-1 propulsion cluster operated for the planned duration of flight. Second full-powered flight of USAF Atlas ICBM traveled 2,500 miles with radio-inertial guidance, fully successful.


1958 August 29 - . 04:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC11. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas B.
  • Research and development / AFSWC-1 test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 900 km (550 mi).

1958 September 14 - . 05:24 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC14. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas B.
  • Research and development / AFSWC-2 test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 900 km (550 mi).

1958 September 18 - . 21:27 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC13. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas B. FAILURE: Failure. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Research and development launch - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1958 November 18 - . 04:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC11. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas B.
  • Research and development launch - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 800 km (490 mi).

1958 November 29 - . 02:27 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC14. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas B.
  • Research and development / AFSWC-3 test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 900 km (550 mi). Less than 18 months after the first flight, a USAF Atlas made its first successful full-range operational test flight in a 6,325 statute-mile flight, landed close to its target..

1958 December 18 - . 23:02 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC11. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas B.
  • Score - . Mass: 70 kg (154 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: DARPA. Class: Technology. Type: Communications technology satellite. Spacecraft: Score. Decay Date: 1959-01-21 . USAF Sat Cat: 10 . COSPAR: 1958-Zeta-1. Apogee: 1,484 km (922 mi). Perigee: 185 km (114 mi). Inclination: 32.3000 deg. Period: 101.50 min.

    Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment; first commsat; transmitted taped messages for 13 days. Project Score, Atlas rocket placed in orbit carrying communications equipment which relayed President Eisenhower's Christmas message to the world from outer space. (AF Ballistic Missiles Program Status Report.)


1959 January 16 - . 04:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC14. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas B. FAILURE: Failure. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Research and development launch - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1959 February 4 - . 08:01 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC11. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas B.
  • Research and development / AFSWC-4? test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 990 km (610 mi). Last Atlas B flight, fully successful.


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