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SM-65B Atlas

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SM-65B Atlas

Atlas B (SM-65B)

Atlas B before the launch of SCORE (USAF)
Function Prototype ICBM
Expendable launch system
Manufacturer Convair
Country of origin United States
Launch history
Status Retired
Launch sites LC-11, LC-13 & LC-14, CCAFS
Total launches 10
Successes 6
Failures 4
First flight 19 July 1958
Last flight 4 February 1959

The SM-65B Atlas, or Atlas B, also designated X-12[1] was a prototype of the Atlas missile. First flown on 19 July 1958, the Atlas B was the first version of the Atlas rocket to use the stage and a half design.

Ten flights were made. Nine of these were sub-orbital test flights of the Atlas as an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, with five successful missions and four failures. The seventh flight, launched on 18 December 1958, was used to place the SCORE satellite into low Earth orbit, the first orbital launch conducted by an Atlas rocket.

All Atlas-B launches were conducted from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, at Launch Complexes 11, 13 and 14.[1]

Launch history

Date Time (GMT) Pad Serial Apogee Outcome Remarks
1958-07-19 17:36 LC-11 3B 10 km (6.2 mi) Failure. Flight control failure due to the launch crews forgetting to power on the gyroscope package. RSO T+56 seconds. Flight considered a "partial success" because the propulsion system functioned normally until vehicle breakup.
1958-08-02 22:16 LC-13 4B 900 km (560 mi) Success
1958-08-29 04:30 LC-11 5B 900 km (560 mi) Success
1958-09-14 05:24 LC-14 8B 900 km (560 mi) Success
1958-09-18 21:27 LC-13 6B 100 km (62 mi) Failure. Turbopump failure followed by missile self-destruction at T+80 seconds.
1958-11-18 04:00 LC-11 9B 800 km (500 mi) Partial failure. Excessive fuel consumption by the sustainer engine led to premature cutoff. This vehicle was equipped with redesigned turbopumps following the failure of Missile 6B.
1958-11-29 02:27 LC-14 12B 900 km (560 mi) Success First full-range test flight
1958-12-18 22:02 LC-11 10B N/A Success Placed SCORE satellite into 185 km x 1,484 km x 32.3° orbit. First use of an Atlas for space launches. Vehicle 10B was modified for this purpose with special elongated propellant tanks.
1959-01-16 04:00 LC-14 13B 100 km (62 mi) Failure. Loss of thrust at T+100 seconds due to suspected overheating in the boattail section (there was no telemetry system on this missile). Also used elongated propellant tanks.
1959-02-04 08:01 LC-11 11B 900 km (560 mi) Success

See also


  1. ^ a b Encyclopedia Astronautica - Atlas B

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