Encyclopedia Astronautica
Atlas E/MSD


American orbital launch vehicle. Atlas E + 1 x MSD upper stage.

Failures: 1. First Fail Date: 1980-12-09. Last Fail Date: 1980-12-09.

Gross mass: 122,000 kg (268,000 lb).
Height: 27.30 m (89.50 ft).
Diameter: 3.05 m (10.00 ft).
Thrust: 1,731.00 kN (389,144 lbf).
Apogee: 1,100 km (600 mi).
First Launch: 1980.12.09.
Number: 1 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • NOSS American military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. 22 launches, 1971.12.14 (OPS 7898 P/L 1) to 1993.08.02 (TLD). Ocean surveillance; aka White Cloud type spacecraft; Navy Ocean Surveillance Satellite; PARCAE. More...
  • LIPS American tether technology satellite. 3 launches, 1980.12.09 (LIPS 1) to 1987.05.15 (LIPS 3). 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 Launch Sites
  • Vandenberg Vandenberg Air Force Base is located on the Central Coast of California about 240 km northwest of Los Angeles. It is used for launches of unmanned government and commercial satellites into polar orbit and intercontinental ballistic missile test launches toward the Kwajalein Atoll. More...
  • Vandenberg SLC3W Delta, Atlas launch complex. First designated LC1-1 and used to launch Atlas Agena B with Samos payloads. After Samos cancellation, rebuilt in 1963 to support launch of KH-4 Corona spysats atop Thor-Agena. Refurbished in 1973 to accomodate surplus Atlas ICBM's in space launch role. More...

Associated Stages
  • Atlas E/F Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 117,826/4,926 kg. Thrust 386.30 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 316 seconds. More...
  • Atlas MA-3 Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 3,174/3,174 kg. Thrust 1,644.96 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 290 seconds. More...
  • Star 20 Solid rocket stage. 27.14 kN (6,100 lbf) thrust. Mass 301 kg (664 lb). More...

Atlas E/MSD Chronology


1980 December 9 - . 07:18 GMT - . Launch Site: Vandenberg. Launch Complex: Vandenberg SLC3W. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas E/MSD. LV Configuration: Atlas E/MSD 68E. FAILURE: Premature shut down of one of the Atlas booster engines turned the vehicle around, thereafter the sustainer thrust it back toward the earth.. Failed Stage: 1.
  • NOSS - . Payload: PARCAE 4. Nation: USA. Agency: USN. Class: Military. Type: Military naval signals reconnaisance satellite. Spacecraft: NOSS. Decay Date: 1980-12-08 . COSPAR: F801209A. Ocean surveillance; aka White Cloud type spacecraft; Navy Ocean Surveillance Satellite; PARCAE. Other sources give the payload designation ABSAD. The failure was caused by a loss of lubricating oil to one of the booster engines, causing the engine to fail approx 200 milliseconds before it was to have shut down on guidance command. The asymmetric thrust pivoted the booster around approximately 180 degrees, where it stabilized in a retrofire attitude with the sustainer engine still firing. It descended back toward earth through its own exhaust flame and exploded a couple of minutes later.
  • LIPS 1 - . Payload: LIPS 1. Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFSC. Spacecraft: LIPS. COSPAR: F801209E.
  • SSU - . Payload: SSU. Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFSC. Spacecraft: NOSS. COSPAR: F801209D.
  • SSU - . Payload: SSU. Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFSC. Spacecraft: NOSS. COSPAR: F801209C.
  • SSU - . Payload: SSU. Nation: USA. Agency: USAF AFSC. Spacecraft: NOSS. COSPAR: F801209B.

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