Chapter

The Atlas Space-Launch Vehicle and Its Upper Stages, 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: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813031781.003.0004
The Atlas Space-Launch Vehicle and Its Upper Stages, 1958–1990

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This chapter discusses the development of the Atlas space-launch vehicles. Conceived as a missile, Atlas turned out to be a versatile launch vehicle, mated with a great variety of upper stages ranging from Able and Agena through Centaur to a succession of solid-propellant designs. Featuring a controversial but “brilliant, innovative, and yet simple” concept, the steel-balloon tank design, both Atlas and Centaur were adaptable and effective. With commercialization, the pair continued to provide launch services beyond the period of this book and into the 21st century.

Keywords: Atlas; space launch vehicle technology; rocket technology; missiles; Abe; Agena; Centaur

Chapter.  16375 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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