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Written and Edited by Cliff Lethbridge

Classification: Space Launch Vehicle

Length: 97 feet, 9 inches

Diameter: 10 feet


The Atlas-Able was a four-stage rocket employing the Atlas D missile as its first stage. The vehicle used Able upper stages which were adapted from the Vanguard rocket program.

The second stage was an Aerojet engine with a 7,500-pound thrust. The third stage was an Altair engine with a thrust of 3,000 pounds. A fourth stage injection motor was attached to the payload, and provided a thrust of about 450 pounds.

The Atlas-Able was designed to carry a 1,500-pound payload to low-Earth orbit, a 500-pound payload to lunar impact or a 300-pound payload to Earth-escape trajectory.

The short-lived Atlas-Able was retired in 1960 after it was used in three unsuccessful attempts to send Pioneer spacecraft to the Moon.

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