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Atlas Centaur
Part of Atlas Family
Atlas LV
Atlas LV
Atlas LV-3C s/n AC-3 / Centaur D s/n 135D - 1964-06-30
American orbital launch vehicle. First test version of Atlas with Centaur upper stage.

Status: Retired 1965. First Launch: 1962-05-08. Last Launch: 1965-03-02. Number: 5 . Payload: 1,700 kg (3,700 lb). Thrust: 1,704.82 kN (383,259 lbf). Gross mass: 136,124 kg (300,102 lb). Height: 33.00 m (108.00 ft). Diameter: 3.05 m (10.00 ft).

LEO Payload: 3,630 kg (8,000 lb) to a 185 km orbit. Payload: 2,255 kg (4,971 lb) to a GTO. Launch Price $: 70.300 million in 1994 dollars.


More at: Atlas Centaur.

Family: orbital launch vehicle. Country: USA. Spacecraft: Surveyor. Launch Sites: Cape Canaveral, Cape Canaveral LC36A. Stages: Centaur C, Atlas MA-2, Atlas D stage. Agency: Convair.

1958 August 26 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur.
  • After examining contractor proposals for a communications satellite relay project since September 1957, Headquarters ARDC presented its original strategic communications satellite development plan. - . Spacecraft: Advent.

1958 October 22 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur.
  • The Advanced Research Projects Agency informed the Air Force that it planned to develop a satellite communications system. - . Spacecraft: Advent. The Army would be responsible for development of the communications payload, while the Air Force was assigned the booster and satellite vehicle..

1958 November 5 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur.
  • The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) made the Army Signal Research and Development Laboratory (ASRDL) and the Air Research and Development Command (ARDC) responsible for milcomsats. - . Spacecraft: Advent. This covered communications and vehicular aspects of the first U.S. military communications satellite program. Booster and spacecraft development were assigned to AFBMD..

1958 November 8 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur.
  • ARPA requested a joint Army-Air Force development plan for a 24-hour, synchronous equatorial orbit communications satellite. - . Spacecraft: Advent. The Army Signal Corps was to be responsible for the ground and satellite communications while the Air Force (AFBMD) was to handle satellite spacecraft, booster, and launch services..

1958 November 12 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur.
  • Headquarters ARDC informed AFBMD that it would be responsible for the booster and spacecraft portions of the 24-hour communications satellite program. - . Spacecraft: Advent, .

1959 May 20 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur.
  • At last realizing the importance of the ground-to-aircraft communications requirements for control of the SAC bomber force, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) initiated Project Steer. - . Spacecraft: Advent.

    The defense communication satellite effort now had three distinct elements - Steer; Tackle, for an advanced polar communication satellite; and Decree for a 24-hour synchronous communication satellite to be put in orbit by the as yet undeveloped Atlas-Centaur. Priority was assigned to Project Steer, and project supervision was given to AFBMD. However, ARPA retained control and did not delegate authority and responsibility for systems integration.


1960 February 29 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur.
  • Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) issued an interim directive cancelling the three-phase development program for a military communication satellite system. - . Spacecraft: Advent.

    Pending a Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and OSD review, Projects Steer, Tackle, and Decree were replaced by a single synchronous communications satellite system subsequently designated Project Advent. AFBMD was directed to conduct a single integrated research and development program for a 24-hour synchronous equatorial global communication satellite system. The Army was to develop the communications equipment while AFBMD handled the booster and spacecraft.


1961 October 3 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur.
  • Because of delays in the Centaur upper stage development program and increasing management difficulties, Headquarters USAF recommended cancellation of the Advent program. - . Spacecraft: Advent, IDCSP, .

1962 May 8 - . 19:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36A. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur. FAILURE: Vehicle exploded due to insulation problems on the Atlas.. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Research and development test - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 6.00 km (3.70 mi).

    The first attempt to launch an Atlas/Centaur from the Atlantic Missile Range was unsuccessful when the Centaur stage blew up at T+55 seconds due to a second stage structural failure. Despite this failure, the launch marked the first U.S. use of a space vehicle fueled by a liquid hydrogen engine. First Centaur flight (unsuccessful).


1963 August 17 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur.
  • General Dynamics' Convair/Astronautics fired the Centaur liquid hydrogen/ liquid oxygen upper stage for the first time using both RL-10 engines. - .

1963 November 27 - . 19:03 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36A. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur.
  • Atlas Centaur 2 - . Payload: Centaur 2B. Mass: 4,620 kg (10,180 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Cleveland. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Surveyor. USAF Sat Cat: 694 . COSPAR: 1963-047A. Apogee: 1,478 km (918 mi). Perigee: 469 km (291 mi). Inclination: 30.4000 deg. Period: 104.60 min.

    Launched from Cape Canaveral, Atlas/Centaur (AC-2) was the first successful use of the high-energy liquid hydrogen/ liquid oxygen Centaur upper stage vehicle developed for NASA by General Dynamics. The spent Centaur stage entered orbit. Launch vehicle test. Launch vehicle put dummy payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit. First successful Centaur (liquid hydrogen-fueled) flight.


1964 June 30 - . 14:04 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36A. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur. FAILURE: Centaur hydraulics failure.. Failed Stage: U.
  • Centaur AC-3 - . Payload: Centaur 1C. Mass: 4,815 kg (10,615 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Decay Date: 1964-06-30 . Apogee: 500 km (310 mi). Centaur test. Launch vehicle was to have put payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit.

1964 December 11 - . 14:25 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36A. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur.
  • Surveyor SD-1 - . Payload: Surveyor SD-1. Mass: 2,944 kg (6,490 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: JPL, NASA. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Surveyor. Decay Date: 1964-12-12 . USAF Sat Cat: 951 . COSPAR: 1964-082A. Apogee: 178 km (110 mi). Perigee: 165 km (102 mi). Inclination: 30.7000 deg. Period: 87.80 min. Launch vehicle test. Centaur AC-4 put dummy Surveyor payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit.

1965 March 2 - . 13:25 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36A. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur. FAILURE: Failure. Failed Stage: U.
  • Surveyor SD-1 - . Payload: Surveyor SD-1. Mass: 951 kg (2,096 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Spacecraft: Surveyor. Decay Date: 1965-03-02 . Launch vehicle test. Launch vehicle was to have put payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit.


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