Encyclopedia Astronautica
Atlas I



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Atlas Centaur 69
Credit: Lockheed Martin
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Atlas H / Atlas I
Atlas I. Atlas H was similar but with smaller-diameter fairing.
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Atlas Centaur No.69
Credit: Lockheed Martin
American orbital launch vehicle. The Atlas I launch vehicle was derived from the Atlas G, and included the same basic vehicle components (Atlas booster and Centaur upper stage). Significant improvements in the guidance and control system were made with an emphasis on replacing analog flight control components with digital units interconnected with a digital data bus.

The first flight of an Atlas I was on July 25, 1990. Originally, 18 Atlas I vehicles were planned for manufacture. With the award by the USAF to General Dynamics of the MLV-II vehicle development contract for the Atlas II launch vehicle, the Atlas program rescoped Atlas I production commitments to 11 vehicles and converted the remaining commitments to the Atlas II/IIA/IIAS production effort.

LEO Payload: 3,630 kg (8,000 lb) to a 185 km orbit. Payload: 2,255 kg (4,971 lb) to a GTO. Failures: 3. First Fail Date: 1991-04-18. Last Fail Date: 1993-03-25. Development Cost $: 400.000 million. Launch Price $: 75.000 million in 1985 dollars. Flyaway Unit Cost $: 70.300 million in 1987 dollars in 1994 dollars.

Stage Data - Atlas I

  • Stage 0. 1 x Atlas MA-5. Gross Mass: 3,646 kg (8,038 lb). Empty Mass: 3,646 kg (8,038 lb). Thrust (vac): 1,896.010 kN (426,240 lbf). Isp: 294 sec. Burn time: 174 sec. Isp(sl): 259 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: LR-89-7. Status: In Production.
  • Stage 1. 1 x Atlas G/H/I. Gross Mass: 142,536 kg (314,238 lb). Empty Mass: 4,236 kg (9,338 lb). Thrust (vac): 386.300 kN (86,844 lbf). Isp: 316 sec. Burn time: 266 sec. Isp(sl): 220 sec. Diameter: 3.05 m (10.00 ft). Span: 4.90 m (16.00 ft). Length: 22.20 m (72.80 ft). Propellants: Lox/Kerosene. No Engines: 1. Engine: LR-105-7. Status: In Production.
  • Stage 2. 1 x Centaur I. Gross Mass: 15,600 kg (34,300 lb). Empty Mass: 1,700 kg (3,700 lb). Thrust (vac): 146.800 kN (33,002 lbf). Isp: 444 sec. Burn time: 402 sec. Isp(sl): 0.0000 sec. Diameter: 3.05 m (10.00 ft). Span: 3.05 m (10.00 ft). Length: 9.15 m (30.01 ft). Propellants: Lox/LH2. No Engines: 2. Engine: RL-10A-3A. Status: In Production.

Gross mass: 164,300 kg (362,200 lb).
Payload: 3,630 kg (8,000 lb).
Height: 43.90 m (144.00 ft).
Diameter: 3.05 m (10.00 ft).
Thrust: 1,939.30 kN (435,972 lbf).
Apogee: 185 km (114 mi).
First Launch: 1990.07.25.
Last Launch: 1997.04.25.
Number: 11 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • 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...
  • AS 3000 American communications satellite. 25 launches, 1981.11.20 (RCA Satcom 4; RCA Satcom 3R) to 1996.01.14 (Koreasat 2). 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...
  • CRRES American earth magnetosphere satellite. One launch, 1990.07.25. Combined Release and Radiation Effects Satellite. Chemical release experiment. More...
  • GOES-Next American earth weather satellite. 3 launches, 1994.04.13 (GOES 8) to 1997.04.25 (GOES 10). Geostationary Environmental Satellite. 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...

Associated Engines
  • LR105-7 Rocketdyne Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 386.4 kN. Atlas space launchers. Out of production. Atlas Sustainer. Gas generator, pump-fed. Evolved from MA-2 ICBM system. Isp=316s. First flight 1963. More...
  • LR89-7 Rocketdyne Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 948 kN. Atlas space launchers. Out of production. Designed for booster applications. Gas generator, pump-fed. Shared turbopumps for booster engines. Evolved from MA-2 ICBM system. Isp=294s. First flight 1963. More...
  • RL-10A-3A Pratt and Whitney lox/lh2 rocket engine. 73.4 kN. Isp=444s. Used on Centaur stage atop Atlas G, Atlas I, Atlas II, Titan 4. First flight 1984. 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...

Associated Programs
  • BS Medium-scale broadcasting satellites for experimental purposes and communications to Japanese home islands. More...
  • UHF US Navy communications satellite network; Ultra High Frequency Follow On. 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 LC36B Atlas V, Atlas launch complex. Atlas Centaur launch pad, in service from 1964 until the retirement of the launch vehicle. More...

Associated Stages
  • Atlas G/H/I Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 142,536/4,236 kg. Thrust 386.30 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 316 seconds. More...
  • Atlas MA-5 Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 3,646/3,646 kg. Thrust 1,896.01 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 294 seconds. More...
  • Centaur I Lox/LH2 propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 15,600/1,700 kg. Thrust 146.80 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 444 seconds. More...

Atlas I Chronology


1990 July 25 - . 19:21 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas I. LV Configuration: Atlas I AC-69 / Centaur I 5049.
  • CRRES - . Payload: CRRES (P 86-1). Mass: 1,629 kg (3,591 lb). Nation: USA. Class: Earth. Type: Magnetosphere satellite. Spacecraft: CRRES. USAF Sat Cat: 20712 . COSPAR: 1990-065A. Apogee: 34,739 km (21,585 mi). Perigee: 335 km (208 mi). Inclination: 18.0000 deg. Period: 613.40 min. Summary: Combined Release and Radiation Effects Satellite. First launch of commercial Atlas-Centaur. Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space. Elliptical orbit; MRS trajectory..

1991 April 18 - . 23:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas I. LV Configuration: Atlas I AC-70. FAILURE: RL-10 Centaur engine turbopump failed at T+361 seconds; destroyed by range safety.. Failed Stage: 2.
  • Yuri 3H - . Payload: BS-3H. Mass: 600 kg (1,320 lb). Nation: Japan. Agency: TSCJ. Manufacturer: Lockheed. Program: BS. Class: Communications. Type: Civilian communications satellite. Spacecraft: AS 3000. Decay Date: 1991-04-18 . COSPAR: F910418A. Apogee: 175 km (108 mi).

1992 March 14 - . 00:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas I. LV Configuration: Atlas I AC-72 / Centaur I 5052.
  • Galaxy 5 - . Mass: 1,412 kg (3,112 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: HCI. Program: Galaxy. Class: Communications. Type: Civilian communications satellite. Spacecraft: HS 376. USAF Sat Cat: 21906 . COSPAR: 1992-013A. Apogee: 35,790 km (22,230 mi). Perigee: 35,782 km (22,233 mi). Inclination: 0.0000 deg. Period: 1,436.10 min. Summary: Geostationary at 125 deg W. Launch vehicle put payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit with GCS trajectory option. Positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 125 deg W in 1992-2001. As of 2007 Mar 8 located at 7.46E drifting at 3.538W degrees per day..

1992 August 22 - . 22:40 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas I. LV Configuration: Atlas I AC-71 / Centaur I 5051. FAILURE: Destroyed by range safety. Centaur engine turbopump did not start. Identical to the 18 April 1991 failure.. Failed Stage: 2.
  • Galaxy 1R - . Payload: Galaxy 1R. Nation: USA. Agency: HCI. Program: Galaxy. Class: Communications. Type: Civilian communications satellite. Spacecraft: HS 376. Decay Date: 1992-08-22 . COSPAR: F920822A.

1993 March 25 - . 21:38 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas I. LV Configuration: Atlas I AC-74 / Centaur I 5054. FAILURE: Atlas engine failure. Loss of booster engine thrust resulted in a lower-than planned 1560 km x 1900 km orbit. Failed Stage: 1.
  • UHF F1 - . Payload: UHF F/O F1. Mass: 2,866 kg (6,318 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: HCI. Program: UHF. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: HS 601. Completed Operations Date: 1993-07-01 . USAF Sat Cat: 22563 . COSPAR: 1993-015A. Apogee: 36,098 km (22,430 mi). Perigee: 36,053 km (22,402 mi). Inclination: 21.1000 deg. Period: 1,450.90 min. US Navy communications; Ultra High Frequency Follow On; unusable orbit. Spacecraft engaged in practical applications and uses of space technology such as weather or communication (US Cat C). Launch vehicle was to have put payload into subsynchronous earth orbit with MRS trajectory option. As of 28 August 2001 located at 45.55 deg W drifting at 3.676 deg W per day. As of 2007 Mar 10 located at 95.89E drifting at 3.687W degrees per day.

1993 September 3 - . 11:17 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas I. LV Configuration: Atlas I AC-75 / Centaur I 5055.
  • USA 95 - . Payload: UHF F/O F2. Mass: 2,844 kg (6,269 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: HCI. Program: UHF. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: HS 601. USAF Sat Cat: 22787 . COSPAR: 1993-056A. Apogee: 35,805 km (22,248 mi). Perigee: 35,767 km (22,224 mi). Inclination: 5.0000 deg. Period: 1,436.10 min. US Navy communications. Spacecraft engaged in practical applications and uses of space technology such as weather or communication (US Cat C). Launch vehicle put payload into subsynchronous earth orbit with MRS trajectory option. Positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 72 deg E in 1993-1999.

1994 April 13 - . 06:04 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas I. LV Configuration: Atlas I AC-73 / Centaur I 5053.
  • GOES 8 - . Payload: GOES I. Mass: 2,105 kg (4,640 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NOAA. Program: GOES. Class: Earth. Type: Weather satellite. Spacecraft: GOES-Next. USAF Sat Cat: 23051 . COSPAR: 1994-022A. Apogee: 35,807 km (22,249 mi). Perigee: 35,770 km (22,220 mi). Inclination: 0.1000 deg. Period: 1,436.20 min. Geostationary Environmental Satellite. Stationed at 75 deg W. Space craft engaged in investigation of spaceflight techniques and technology (US Cat A). Launch vehicle put payload into supersynchronous earth orbit with MRS trajectory option. Positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 90 deg W in 1994-1995; 75 deg W in 1995-1999 As of 5 September 2001 located at 74.78 deg W drifting at 0.019 deg E per day. NASA announced that GOES-8 was "de-orbited" (presumably moved to a sub-synchronous orbit) on May 5, 2004 after 10 years of service. As of 2007 Mar 11 located at 87.46E drifting at 4.935W degrees per day.

1994 June 24 - . 13:50 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas I. LV Configuration: Atlas I AC-76 / Centaur I 5056.
  • USA 104 - . Payload: UHF F/O F3. Mass: 2,847 kg (6,276 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: HCI. Program: UHF. Class: Communications. Type: Military communications satellite. Spacecraft: HS 601. USAF Sat Cat: 23132 . COSPAR: 1994-035A. Apogee: 35,795 km (22,241 mi). Perigee: 35,776 km (22,230 mi). Inclination: 4.8100 deg. Period: 1,436.05 min. Summary: US Navy communications . Stationed at 14.38 deg W 1995-1999. Launch vehicle put payload into subsynchronous earth orbit with MRS trajectory option..

1995 May 23 - . 05:52 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas I. LV Configuration: Atlas I AC-77 / Centaur I 5057.
  • GOES 9 - . Payload: GOES J. Mass: 2,105 kg (4,640 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NOAA. Program: GOES. Class: Earth. Type: Weather satellite. Spacecraft: GOES-Next. USAF Sat Cat: 23581 . COSPAR: 1995-025A. Apogee: 35,911 km (22,314 mi). Perigee: 35,809 km (22,250 mi). Inclination: 0.2000 deg. Period: 1,435.90 min. Stationed at 135 deg W. Launch vehicle put payload into supersynchronous earth orbit with MRS trajectory option. Positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 90 deg W in 1995; 135 deg W in 1996-1998; 98-105 deg W in 1998-1999 As of 5 September 2001 located at 103.62 deg W drifting at 0.009 deg W per day. As of 2007 Mar 10 located at 159.81E drifting at 0.002W degrees per day.

1996 April 30 - . 04:31 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas I. LV Configuration: Atlas I AC-78 / Centaur I 5058.
  • Beppo SAX - . Payload: BeppoSAX. Nation: Italy. Agency: ASI. Class: Astronomy. Type: X-ray astronomy satellite. Spacecraft: SAX. Decay Date: 2003-04-29 . USAF Sat Cat: 23857 . COSPAR: 1996-027A. Apogee: 601 km (373 mi). Perigee: 584 km (362 mi). Inclination: 4.0000 deg. Period: 96.50 min. Summary: LEO. Satellite per Astronomia a raggi X; X-ray celestial observatory Launch vehicle put payload into low earth orbit with IFR trajectory option. 100th Atlas-Centaur flight..

1997 April 25 - . 05:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas I. LV Configuration: Atlas I AC-79.
  • GOES 10 - . Payload: GOES K. Nation: USA. Agency: NOAA. Manufacturer: Palo Alto. Program: GOES. Class: Earth. Type: Weather satellite. Spacecraft: GOES-Next. USAF Sat Cat: 24786 . COSPAR: 1997-019A. Apogee: 35,799 km (22,244 mi). Perigee: 35,780 km (22,230 mi). Inclination: 0.4000 deg. Period: 1,436.30 min. Geosynchronous. Stationed over 105.7W Launch vehicle put payload into supersynchronous earth orbit with MRS trajectory option. Positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 105 deg W in 1997-1998; 135 deg W in 1998-1999 As of 6 September 2001 located at 135.09 deg W drifting at 0.037 deg W per day. As of 2007 Mar 11 located at 59.64W drifting at 0.009W degrees per day.

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