Encyclopedia Astronautica
Thor DM-18



raflaunc.jpg
RAF Training Launch
Successful training launch by the Royal Air Force with the USAF 392nd Squadron acting as instructors. This launch was from the launch complex that consisted of launch pads 6, 7 and 8. During this time we were using all three launch pads for RAF training. This was the fourth RAF Thor training launch. Launch date was August 3, 1959.
Credit: Larry Rhoads
American orbital launch vehicle. Single stage vehicle adapted from Thor IRBM with no upper stage.

Sixty Thors were deployed to missile sites in Great Britain under Project Emily. Philip Payne worked for Rocketdyne as their manager in England. He recalls:

Those days I worked for Rocketdyne as the manager in England of Project Emily. Our mission: get 60 Thors aimed at Khrushchev's privates. Things were going badly for lots of reasons, many of them lack of earnest concentration by many Americans in corporations as well as USAF. I was p....d and often loudly said so.

One day a dignified, little American man came to me at Feltwell, Cambridgeshire, England, site of the first squadron (if we could ever get it installed and checked out) and told me he heard I was the one to talk to find out what was wrong. I was bad on names then, in my youth and so for hours as I laid it on him, I did not realize until late in the day I was talking to the American Secretary of Defense, Charlie Wilson.

I was so unpolitical an engineer turned executive, that I did not bother to tell my company of this until, receiving a muted blast vis vis Douglas, they told me. Douglas sent over Bill Duval to replace Earl Neff.....

Thereafter things improved. After a few years the Thors were withdrawn from Britain (and the Jupiters from Turkey) as part of the secret codicil of Kennedy's deal to end the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Failures: 9. First Fail Date: 1957-01-26. Last Fail Date: 1958-07-26. Development Cost $: 500.000 million. Launch Price $: 4.930 million in 1958 dollars. Flyaway Unit Cost $: 0.750 million in 1985 dollars in 1958 dollars. Total Development Built: 64. Total Production Built: 160.

Stage Data - Thor DM-18

  • Stage 1. 1 x Thor DM-19. Gross Mass: 49,340 kg (108,770 lb). Empty Mass: 3,125 kg (6,889 lb). Thrust (vac): 758.711 kN (170,565 lbf). Isp: 282 sec. Burn time: 165 sec. Isp(sl): 248 sec. Diameter: 2.44 m (8.00 ft). Span: 2.44 m (8.00 ft). Length: 18.42 m (60.43 ft). Propellants: Lox/Kerosene. No Engines: 1. Engine: LR-79-7. Status: Out of Production.

Status: Retired 1958.
Gross mass: 49,340 kg (108,770 lb).
Height: 22.00 m (72.00 ft).
Diameter: 2.44 m (8.00 ft).
Thrust: 667.20 kN (149,993 lbf).
Apogee: 520 km (320 mi).
First Launch: 1957.01.26.
Last Launch: 1958.08.06.
Number: 18 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • DMSP Block 4A American earth weather satellite. 13 launches, 1965.01.19 (DMSP-Block-4A F1) to 1969.07.23 (DMSP-Block-4A F13). Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. More...

See also
  • Delta The Delta launch vehicle was America's longest-lived, most reliable, and lowest-cost space launch vehicle. Development began in 1955 and it continued in service in the 21st Century despite numerous candidate replacements. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Douglas American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Boeing Huntington Beach, Huntington Beach, CA, USA. 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 LC18B Scout, Delta launch complex. The LC18 complex included two launch pads 18A and 18B. Pad 18B supported 17 Thor missile launches between 4 June 1958 and 1 March 1960. Pad 18B supported half a dozen Blue Scout I, Blue Scout II and Scout missions between 7 January 1961 and 13 April 1962. Complex 18 was deactivated on 1 February 1967. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC17B Delta launch complex. Part of a dual launch pad complex built for the Thor ballistic missile program in 1956. Upgraded over the decades for use with Thor, Delta, Delta II, and Delta III launch vehicles, it remained in use for over half a century. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC17A Delta launch complex. Part of a dual launch pad complex built for the Thor ballistic missile program in 1956. Pad 17A supported Thor, Delta, and Delta II launches into the 21st Century. More...

Associated Stages
  • Thor DM-19 Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 49,340/3,125 kg. Thrust 758.71 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 282 seconds. More...

Thor DM-18 Chronology


1957 January 26 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DM-18. LV Configuration: Thor DM-18 101. FAILURE: Lox contamination, led to a valve failure. Thrust decayed, the booster settled back through the thrust ring, causing an oxygen fire, followed by booster explosion.. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Series I research and development launch - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi). Summary: First attempted test flight of USAF Thor IRBM, only 13 months after first production contracts were signed, failed to launch..

1957 April 20 - . 04:33 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DM-18. LV Configuration: Thor DM-18 102. FAILURE: Console wiring error resulted in erroneous tracking indication; destroyed by range safety.. Failed Stage: G.
  • Series I research and development launch - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi). Douglas Thor IRBM (XSM-75) was launched at Cape Canaveral, Fla., destroyed by range safety officer. The missile was actually on course throughout its flight. The console wiring error led the range safety officer to believe it was headed inland rather than out to sea, so he hit the destruct button.

1957 May 22 - . 03:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DM-18. LV Configuration: Thor DM-18 103.
  • Research and development Series I (padex) test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1957 August 30 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DM-18. LV Configuration: Thor DM-18 104. FAILURE: Failure. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Series I research and development launch - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1957 September 20 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DM-18. LV Configuration: Thor DM-18 105.
  • Series I research and development launch - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 520 km (320 mi). Summary: Complete USAF Thor IRBM first successfully launched from Cape Canaveral. Dummy Warhead sent to 1800 km range..

1957 October 3 - . 17:13 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DM-18. LV Configuration: Thor DM-18 107. FAILURE: Failure. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Series I research and development launch - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1957 October 11 - . 16:33 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DM-18. LV Configuration: Thor DM-18 108. FAILURE: Turbopump gearbox failure..
  • Series I research and development launch - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 520 km (320 mi). Summary: Thor missile launched at Cape Canaveral, the second tested, achieved its designed 1,500-mile range..

1957 October 24 - . 16:32 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DM-18. LV Configuration: Thor DM-18 109.
  • Series I research and development launch - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 520 km (320 mi). Summary: Stripped down Thor long-range flight test successful from AMR, impacting 4400 km downrange..

1957 December 7 - . 22:11 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DM-18. LV Configuration: Thor DM-18 112.
  • Research and development Series II test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 520 km (320 mi).

1957 December 19 - . 20:12 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DM-18. LV Configuration: Thor DM-18 113.
  • Research and development Series II test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 520 km (320 mi). Summary: A Thor missile, the eighth tested and the fourth successfully, completed the first fully-guided Thor IRBM flight using an all-inertial guidance system..

1958 January 28 - . 20:16 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DM-18. LV Configuration: Thor DM-18 114. FAILURE: Failure. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Research and development Series II test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi). Summary: Thor IRBM successfully fired from Cape Canaveral, flew prescribed course, and impacted in preselected area..

1958 February 28 - . 13:08 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DM-18. LV Configuration: Thor DM-18 120. FAILURE: Failure. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Research and development Series II test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi). Summary: Copper heatsink nose cone.

1958 April 19 - . 13:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DM-18. LV Configuration: Thor DM-18 121. FAILURE: Failure. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Research and development Series II test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1958 June 4 - . 21:17 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC18B. Launch Pad: LC18B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DM-18. LV Configuration: Thor DM-18 115.
  • Research and development Series III test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 520 km (320 mi). Summary: USAF Thor flight tested for the first time from a tactical-type launcher at Cape Canaveral..

1958 June 13 - . 15:06 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DM-18. LV Configuration: Thor DM-18 122.
  • Research and development Series III test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 520 km (320 mi).

1958 July 13 - . 06:36 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DM-18. LV Configuration: Thor DM-18 123.
  • Research and development Series III test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 520 km (320 mi).

1958 July 26 - . 06:40 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DM-18. LV Configuration: Thor DM-18 126. FAILURE: Failure. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Research and development Series III test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1958 August 6 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC18B. Launch Pad: LC18B. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DM-18. LV Configuration: Thor DM-18 117.
  • Research and development Series III test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 520 km (320 mi).

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