The Atlas, Thor, and Jupiter Missiles, 1954–1959

J. D. Hunley

in Preludes to U.S. Space-Launch Vehicle Technology

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780813031774
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038551 | DOI:
The Atlas, Thor, and Jupiter Missiles, 1954–1959

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This chapter discusses the development of the Atlas, Thor, and Jupiter missiles. The Atlas, Thor, and Jupiter missiles were all important in the development of launch vehicle technology. All brought further innovations, and all became the first stages of launch vehicles themselves, with the Air Force's Atlas and Thor being more significant in this role than the Army's Jupiter. Additionally, all three programs illustrated the roles of interservice and interagency rivalry and cooperation that were key features of rocket development in the United States. They also showed the continued use of both theory and empiricism in the complex engineering of rocket systems. Perhaps even more important than these matters, however, was the sheer size of the effort to produce these and other ballistic missiles rapidly to meet the threat of Soviet missile development, about which not much was known at the time. The new missiles “combined to create a new and complex industry” to provide the components and support they needed. “The space industry had to grow very quickly from a few hundred people to several hundred thousand.”

Keywords: missile technology; space industry; ballistic missiles; missile development

Chapter.  18088 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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