Encyclopedia Astronautica
Atlas C Able


American orbital launch vehicle. Version with Atlas C first stage, Able AJ10-101A second stage, Altair solid third stage.

Failures: 1. First Fail Date: 1959-09-24. Last Fail Date: 1959-09-24.

Gross mass: 120,000 kg (260,000 lb).
Height: 28.00 m (91.00 ft).
Diameter: 3.05 m (10.00 ft).
Thrust: 1,615.00 kN (363,066 lbf).
Apogee: 400,000 km (240,000 mi).
First Launch: 1959.09.24.
Number: 1 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
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
  • Pioneer The Jet Propulsion Laboratory Pioneer series were the first US probes sent towards the moon. Later Pioneers explored the heliocentric space environment and were the first spacecraft to reach the outer planets and to escape from the solar system. 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 LC12 Atlas launch complex. The complex was built for the Atlas ballistic missile program. Launch sites 11 to 14 were accepted between August 1957 and mid-April 1958. Complex 12 supported its first Atlas launch on 10 January 1958, and it supported nine Ranger missions and four Mariner missions between 12 August 1961 and 15 June 1967. Complexes 11, 12 and 14 were deactivated in 1967, and Complex 13 was deactivated in April 1978. 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...
  • Altair 1 Solid propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 238/30 kg. Thrust 12.45 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 256 seconds. More...
  • Atlas D Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 113,050/2,347 kg. Thrust 363.22 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 309 seconds. More...
  • Atlas MA-2 Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 3,050/3,050 kg. Thrust 1,517.42 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 282 seconds. More...

Atlas C Able Chronology


1959 September 24 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC12. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas C Able. LV Configuration: Atlas C Able 9C / Able-5. FAILURE: Vehicle exploded on pad.. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Atlas C Able explodes on pad during static test. - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Program: Pioneer. A participant remembers:

    I live near the Cape on Merritt Island and have been here for about 41 years. I worked for the ARMA Corp that developed the Atlas Inertial Guidance System. I was in the Blockhouse at Complex 11 while a static test was performed on an Atlas Able on Complex 12. It did explode. Did it ever! After a couple of hours the six of us were allowed out of the blockhouse and saw all the damage to our complex...I had a tiny piece of that missile for a long time that somehow wound up on my person...labeled 9C.

    The next Atlas Able would not fly until over a year later, using the Atlas D as the booster stage.


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