The Thor-Delta Family of Space-Launch Vehicles, 1958–1990

J. D. Hunley

in U.S. Space-Launch Vehicle Technology

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780813031781
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038568 | DOI:
The Thor-Delta Family of Space-Launch Vehicles, 1958–1990

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This chapter discusses the development of the Thor-Delta family of space launch vehicles. The Thor missiles did not remain in operational use very long, but even before the Air Force retired them in 1963, it had begun to use Thor's airframe and propulsive elements, including its vernier engines, as the first stages of various launch vehicles. With a series of upratings and modifications, Thor remained in use with such upper stages as Able, Able-Star, Agena, Burner I, Burner II, and Burner IIA until 1980. In addition, NASA quickly chose Thor as the first stage of what became its Thor-Delta (later called just Delta) launch vehicle family, which has had an even longer history than the Air Force's Thor series of launch vehicles did. The Delta launch vehicles initially drew upon Vanguard upper stages, as did the Thor-Able used by the Air Force.

Keywords: Thor missiles; rocket technology; launch vehicle technology

Chapter.  15124 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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