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NASA F A C T S
An Educati-)nal Services Publication of A () 5 1 52 5
National Aer, sautics and Space Administration r^^ fz ^^ ^^^4,C
Vol 11—No. S

LAUNCH VEHICLES
Whatever space exploration or investigation Most liquid-propellant rocks engines no4n
is planned, the instruments package or the astro- use have a liquid oxidizer and a liquid Nei,
nauts, or both, must first be put into space. which are injected seporately into the com5ustion
This is the job of t he launch vehicle chamber. The choice of appropria t e feels will
A launch vehicle i s any device that propels sometimes allow the mixing process to ignite the
and guides a spacecraft into space, whether for ruel (hypergolic propellants), but if not, an igni-
a probe (from which it falls back directly to tion device is necessary.
earth), into orbit about the Partn, or into a tra- Examples of liquid rocket r uels are alcohol,
jectory to another celestial body. liquid hydrogen, kerosene, c,nd nviation gasolene
The launch vehicle must apply a thrust large A common liquid oxidizer is liquid oxygen;
enough, and long enough, to lift the entire among others are nitric acid and fluorine.
rocket, which also includes the control system
A second class of liquid p: orellants, called
and the payload As the fuel burns in the
chamber, the gases expand through a nozzle at
monopropellonts, do not need oxygen to releose
high velocity, creating .r eaction in the opposit.:
their energy. Of this limited class hydrogen
peroxide is the best known.
direction.
This is in accordance with Newtor. s third law Since the earth's gravity exerts the greatest
of motion, which says that for every force acting pull at ground ievel, the greatest thru:it is needed
upon a body there exists a corresponding force at take-off. Because of the immense fuel weight
of the some magnitude exerted by the body ► n needed to launch a rocket with a single fuel con-
the opposite direction. tainer, there is a limit to its velocity and Bence to
For energy, every rocket in use today burns a its usefulness. To overcome this difficulty, mo-t
chemical fuel, either solid or liquid. rockets nre now built in stages. The first stage,
The main advantage of a solid fuel is simplic- or booster, gives the initial velocity and over-
ity. It requires no separate tanks, injectors, comes the greatest gravitationoi effect. This
pumps, plumbing, coaling, or comp,ex sec; je:tc- stage is then jettisoned. As the pul! of gtovity
ing systems. It is easy to store and handle: it diminishes with distance from the earth, the other
is stored in the !crunch vehicle. The disadvon- stage or stages (sustainer engines) fire, burn out,
tagrs of solid-fuel, or solid-propellant, rockets and drop off, until only the speeding payload
are lower performance and the difficulty of con- remains.
tracting and stopping the thrust, which cannot Aside from the basic problem of getting
(epeatedly be turned on or off on command. enough thrust for a Ion, enough time to counter-
Soled-propellant rockets are sensitive to tempero- act gravity for a patticuiar weight, the rocket
ture chonge, and their firing time is limited engineer must also cont r ol the rocket flight and
Moreover, manufacturing them is involved and give it only enough velocity for the chosen flight
costly. path. The r.earer the planned orbit of the satel-
Feels used in solid propellants are uspholts, lite is to the earth, the stronger the gravitational
waxes, oils, plastics, metals, rubber, and resins. pull, and Therefore the greater We velocity
Their oxidizers a.e often the common nitrates and needed to keep the satellite in orbit. At 200
perchlorates. miles from the earth, a satellite needs a velocity
The main advantages of a liquid fuel are a of nearly 18,000 m.p.h. to stay i n orbit. At
longer firing time, higher energy, and controllo- 250,000 miles from the earth—approximately
bility. Some liquid propellants canner be stored the distance of the moon—it needs 2,000 m.p.h.
in the launch vehicle, which therefore must be When a satellite reaches a velocity of 25,000
fueled just before take-off. m.p.h. it completely overcomes the earth's gravi-
Po9e 2 NASA FACTS Vol. 11—No 5

tat;onal pull a,.d esc,aes. Unless its speed can why this country is developing a family _:)f re
be reduced, it will travel out Into space. liable launch vehicles of various sizes, shapes,
A satellite's path ornund the earth generally and capabilities. First, this policy is economical.
is elliptical rather than circular. With exceed- Second, the more experience we have with a
ingly precis guidance and velocity control, a few particulo- kinds of vehicles, the more reli-
spacecraft can be put into circular orbit, but the able they become. The aim is to develop the
silghteo drviatf'on in velot.lty will pl oduce an smallest number of vehicles ^onsistent with the
ellipse. Earth sate,'lltes may be put into ellipti- full scope of space missions now foreseen.
cal orbits deliberately, so as to produce a variety For each member of the "stable'' of launch
of altitudes and data. vehicles, missions have been assigned The
It an escaping spacecraft nas been given a missions range from scientific reszorch and ex-
greater velocity than the earth's orbital velocity ,: t nration to projects vital for national defense.
around the sun, It may ac h ieve an orbit with a At pl,,,enl , NASA manages six vehicle, under
greater mean distance from the ;un. With the
the National Lounch Vehicle Program. They are
correct velocity and guidance, it can be rnade to
Scout, Delta, Alas-Centour, Saturn I, Saturn IB,
reach on ''auto-" planet ;i.e. farther from the sun
cnd Saturn V. Development of Thor-Agena B,
than the earth) such as Mars. But if the space- Atlas-Ageno B, t e nd Titan in the national program
craft is launched against the earth's rotation is managed by -he U S. Air Force as agent for
around the sun, it falls toward ',he sun and main- the Department .:of Defense NASA uses these
loins a smaller orbit. With guldunc't, it could vehicles also In its progroms.
now reach Venus or Mercury.
The fl-ght path chosen for o payload wil l thus
Orbits ter the Vrejoet Merewry monnod spaievoh flights
determine what capabilities are required of the vrete appreal"otely circw ,.er, oc ► welly elliptical for em-
particulo! launch vehicle. Obviously, it would ample Fatth 7. wi'M As • ronovt Go. den Ces.Wor. had %n erbO
not make sense to use a moving van to deliver With o per,gee (nearest to the •e.M) of 100 miles, an
apogeo I ferthest from ►he 0060%) of 766 miles
a few parcels. Similarly, it would b s^ impractical
implore, xV111, lownthod November 27, 1903 achieved
to use a Saturn vehicle to orbit a small, light- on 24bot w-t h a per,go7 of 120 males oncl an opoaee
weight group of scientific instruments Thut 1s ► / 23.000 rh'los.

SCOUT

Scout, the smallest of the bask launch vehicles,


was de-gned to provide a reliable and relatively
Inexpensive launch vehicle for smaller payloads
and small .satellite missions, high-altitude probes,
and re-entry experiments.
It has four stages, is 72 feat high (less the
spacecraft), and has a maximum diameter of 3.3
feet at its widest cross section.
Guidance is provided by a strapper!-down
gyro system, and the vehicle is controlled by a
combination of aerodynamic surfaces, let vanes,
and hydrogen peroxide jets.
The only U.S. launch vehicle with solid propel-
lahts exclusively, it has a total thrust of 176,000
pounds and can put a 400-pound payload into
the lower levels of space, or can put 240 pounds
into a 300-nautical mile orbit or of carrying a
100-pound scientific probe about 7,000 miles
away from the earth.

NASA FACTS Val. 11—No. S Pago 3
DELTA

Delta has two liquid-fuel stages topped by a


0 solid-fuel stage. Ninety feet high and 8 feet In
dinmeter at the base (exciuding fins), it can boost
800 pounds into a 300-nouticol -mile orbit oroulyd
the earth. Its gross weight is 1 12,000 pounds,
and the total thrust of the first stage is 170,000
pounds.
It is a workhorse NASA vehicle for a wide
rang! of small-payload satellite missions and
space probes. It has launched the first Orbiting
Solar Observatory, some of the Tiros weather
satellites, and hc,; been 1' . ed in the communico-
tions-satellite Echo I, Telstar, , Relay, and Syncom
programs.
First launched by NASA In May 1460, Delto
was originally Intended os an Interim vehicle for
medium payload satellites and small spare
probes until newer vehicles such as Scout and
Thor-Ayeno B become fully operational. How-
ever, Delta proved io be one of the most reliable
launch vehicles the United States has with a
long list of successful firings to its credit.
Its first stage is a modified Thor, its second a
, nodified and improved stage from the Vanguard
rind Thor-Able programs, dnd its third stage is
0 the spin-stabilized, solid-propellant Altair. The
Altair also deri •.ed foam the earlier Vc^auord
and Thor-Able vehicles. Delta thus utilizes
proven engines, modified to gain high reliability
and perform a variety of missions.

DELTA MISSIONS
(23 successes out of 25 attempts)

COMMUNICATIONS

Echo I 1960
Telslar (AT&T) 2 1962, 63
Re l ay 2 1962, 64
Syncom 3 1963, 64

MITEOROLOGII

Tiros 1960, 61. 62. 63

SCIENTIFIC SATELLITES

E. placer 6 1961 62, 63


n.b r n0 So : . H Obto -n-o r y 1 1962

0 INTERNATI4:116At SATEIUTE

Arrol IU X No 1)
NASA FACTS Vol II—No S
Voge

THOR-AGENA B ATLAS- AGENA B

Thor-Ageno 8 is a two-stage vehicle that can The Arias-Agena n is a two - stage ail -liquid-
send 1,600 pounds into earth orbit (300 nautical propellant vehicle regarded as being capable of
miles) or 600 pot-nds into n 1,200-mile orbit. putting 5,000 pounds in earth orbit and of send-
ing instrumented payloads of 750 pounds to the
Both stages burn liquid propellants, and the
moon and 400 pounds to Mars or Venus. It is
total thrust is 186,000 pounds. The vehicle is
91 feet high (less the spacecraft) and 10 feet in
76 feet high (without spacecraft) and 8 feet wide
diameter. The thrust is 405,000 pounds.
(without the fins). NASA launched its first
The Atlas booster, developed from the
Thor-Agena B in September 1962.
Atlas ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile),
The second stage is the restartable Agena, won fame in the Mercury manned space pro-
which permits great precision in selecting on gram. The first NASA launch was in August
orbit. Agena was developed by the Air Force 1961 (Ranger 1).
as a second stage for use in its own programs. The vehicle is used to launch a variety of mili-
Early in 1960 04ASA decided to use it in com- tary, military-support, and scientific payloads. It
bination with Thor and Atlas rathr.-r than develop can orbit large earth satellites and place in de-
a similar vehicle. The NASA version of Ageno parture trajectories lunor probes and interplone-
B is modified so that various types of payloads tory and plonetary explorat ion craft. When
car. be bolted to the front end. used as •!^e launching vehicle for o satellite, the
Thor-Agena B is being used by NASA fcr me- enure Agena B stage, after separation of the
teorological, communications, and scientific satel- spacecraft, also becomes a satellite.
lites, including the Orbiting Geophysical Observ- This vehicle consists of an Atlas D first sage
o t nry and the Echo II communications satellite. and an Agena B second stage. With its stand-
It is also used in the Air Force Discoverer program. ard three-engine propulsion system plus two
NASA FACTS Vol ll—No S Peg* S

small vernier rockets, the Atlas D weighs ol-zwt During the 2'12 minutes of powered flight, the
260,000 pounds. The second, or Ayena B, Ageno B Is controlled by the hydraulic control
stage has c 15,000-pound-thrust engine that system. When the engine cuts off, the payload
can be stopped and started in space. is In a circular parking orbit appro ^ rnutely 100
, r

Components of the guidance system a e the r miles above the earth. Aiter a !A-minute coast
Inertial reference system, timing devices, u veloc period, the Aqena B engine re- lights and powers
ity meter, and an infrared horizon sensor. Dur- the payload for another 1'/, minutes, placing It
ing powered flight, pitch and yaw control Is in the lunar trajectory. Some 2'/2 minutes after
maintained by glmbaling the rocket motor. engine cutoff the Agena B and the payload sep-
During coast periods, high-pressure bets are used. arate, and the Ranger continues alone
In a lunar application (for example, the On the whole, this vehicle ha proved reliable
y

Ranger VII launched in July 1964) the Atlas D and is expected to continue as a workhorse of
five engines burr for about 2 /2 minutes before
1
the National launch Vehicle Program for a num
the outer engines cut off and drop away. The ber of years. Until Centaur and Saturn ^^ecome
smaller center engine and vernier engines con- operational, the Atlas Ageno will per orm NASA's f

tinue firing for anot'ier 2 minutes, taking the heavy-duty missions.


vehicle to an altitude of 80 miles. The two
The vehicle with which the Gemini will rendez-
small 1,000-pound-thrust vernier engines con-
tinue firing after center engine cutoff lonq enough vous in space is the Ageno D, a 1,700 pound
to trim velocity. An on-board computer com- Air Force upper stage modified to At the require-
ments of i rolect Gemini. The changes Include
monds the Atlas airborne guidance system to
start the timer on the Ageno B stage. addition of a secondary propulsion system, mode-
After the verniers cut off, the Atlas Ageno B fications to the primary propulsion system to
coasts for a few seconds. Then the Spring- provide restart capability, e ectronics modifica-
l

loaded aerodynamic shroud protecting the tions for command and docking, a systems status
Ranger poyloed is discarded. Explosive charges panel which tells the astronauts the status of the
• separate the Ageno B from the Atlas first stage. Ageno D systems, and or, adopter for docking
The Ageno B goes through a pitch maneuver to operations.
brinq it into horizontal alinement with the ea is
Verniers are small rocket engines used primerily to ob
surface. Then the timer signals the propulsion torn a One adjustment in the velocity and trejectery of a
system cnd ignition occurs. space vehicle or missile.

MERCURY-ATLAS

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ItAeresrry-Arlas was the com►inet;on of


Isrr
spocecroh end launch vehicle used for
Borth-orbital flights by John Glenn, Uo» ,•. ww lb,r.
^
C arpenter, Welter Schirre, and Gordon rr cwC-n- ew .1 t^n

Cooper For the suborbital flights of Alan


Shepard and Virgil Grissom the launch
vehicle was Redstone. '^

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Pogo 6 NASA FACTS Vol II-No S

ATLAS-CENTAUR GEMINI-TITAN

Atlas-Centaur, with an Atlas D first stage and Titan, like the Atlas D, is a U.S. Air force in-
a Centaur second stage, is the most advanced tercontinental missile that has been adopted by
of the Atlas-based series of launch vehicles NASA for a specific mission. A modified Titan
When it becomes operational, this 1 I 5-foot-long, 11, selected to boost into orbit the Gerr..ni two-
300,000-pound vehicle will be capable of send- rrnan spacecraft, was used successfully in the un-
ing approximately 8,500 pcunds into low earth manned capsule orbit of Gemini on April 8,
orbit, 2,300 pounds to the moon, and 1,300 1964
pounds to Venus and Mars. It was chosen for the Gemini mission because
its propellants are nonexplosive—o feature per-
The liquid-propelled vehicle will have an esti- mitting use of an e l ction-seat escape system
mated thrust of 377,000 pounds. instead of the escape tower of Mercury. All
engines operate on a mixture in which tl ,e fuel
Atlas-Centaur is expected to be a high-
is a blend of unsymmetrical dimethylr ydrazine
performance, general-purpose launch vehicle for
(referred to as UDMH) and hydrazine, and the
use by NASA and the Department of Defense.
oxidizer is nitrogen tetroxide. The mixture is
It takes a pioneer research effort to develop a
hypergolic, meaning that when the fuel and
rocket vehicle :hat can utilize high-energy liquid
oxidizer are brought together the fuel ignites
hydrogen as fuel. The Centaur program is
spontaneously, without need for an gnition
such cn effort and will provide much of the
system.
basic high energy knowledge required for the
The propellants can be stored indefinitely in
design of the upper stages of future vehicles
Titan's fuel tanks. The launch vehicle can be
and propulsion systems, which will use the same
fuel. readied for use on snort notice and need not be
drained of fuel if a launch is ;p ostponed. Its
Atlas-Centaur is called c "true space vehicle" use with the manned Gemini spacecraft will per-
because its engines can be started, shut down, mit practice of rendezvous maneuvers in orbit,
and restarted to cccomplish changes action and is expected to pave the way toward success
and velocity in spa c e. When fully ,,,.,utnonaI, in the Apollo program of landing men on the
Atlas-Centaur will fly unw -jr.ned lunar and plane- moon.
tary spacecraft beyond the p-esent cc.pabilities Titan II has a 430,000- pound- thrust first stage
of the Atlas- Agena B launch vehicles. In prep and a 100,1300-pound-thrust s_ - e nd stage. It
oration for this future, the first successful launch Is 90 feet high and 10 feet it. ameter at the
occurred in No-ember 1963. base.
de


NASA FACTS Vol II-No S Pogo 7

14•

11

Of

SATURN I The second stage is a cluster of six engines


burning high-energy liquid hydroger, and liquid
• Saturn 1 (formerly called Saturn C-1) was oxygen, and producing a thrust of 90,000
conceived in 1958 to provide early capability pounds. Saturn I is copab!e of placing an 1 1-
for large payloads. Existing components were ton spacecraft in c•orth orbit.
used wherever possible. The decision to ar-
range the engines and tanks in clusters allowed Ten Saturn 1 launchings ore planned. Three
the use of equipment developed for U.S. ballistic Saturn I vehicles are to launch Apollo boiler-
missile programs. Thus, the first stage of the plates carrying micrometeorite experiments.
two-stage Saturn I is a cluster of eight H-I
engines, eoch capable of generating 188,000
pounds of thrust. The second stage has six SATURN IS
liquid-oxygen, liquid hydrogen Rl- 10 A-3 en- Saturn IB (previous ly termed Saturn C-IB)
gines, each generating 15,000 pounds of thrust. will launch all three modules of the Apollo
Saturn I is part of a family of three Satur spacecraft into earth orbit. This vehicle will he
Lunch vehicles NASA is developing For its used fo • manned flights of up to 2 weeks dura-
Apol l o program. In Apollo, Saturn I will !aunch tion and rendezvous and docking of the command
boo!erplates (engineering test models) of the module and Iunor excursion module.
command and service modules on earth-orbital
flights. The first stage has the same eight liquid H-I
Saturn I is 125, feet tall and, excluding fins, engines as Saturn I, generating a total of 1,500,-
has a base diameter of 21.6 feet. The first 000 pounds of thrust. The second stage will
stage was launched successfully in October 1961 . have a single 200,000-pound- thrust liquid-
In May 1964 the sixth successfully fired Saturn hydrogen, liquid-oxygen J-2 engine.
lofted 37,300 pounds. The vehicle will stand 141 feet high and be
Saturn I's first-stage total thrust o` 1 1/2 million able to orbit a spacecraft weighing 17 tons. It
pounds compares with the 360,000 pounds of will be used to launch a complete Apollo craft
thrust of the Atlas missiles that launched our first with crew aboard in earth orbit. First vehicle
spacemen into earth orbital Plights. test is slated for 1966.
Page NASA F ACTS Vol II—No S

SA TURN V

LA V A M 1 AGAR Saturn V will stand clmost twice as high as


srsTb.
Saturn 18 and hove a lift-off weight with pay.
( MMAND W- Dull load of more than 6 million pounds. The first
SthKt MGDI^If stage w.11 be powered by five F-1 engines yield-
t UNAO
1 ii C t r.IC»y ing a total of 7.5 million pounds of thrust. The
Mr. 0JIRl
ti':STQ AI[Nt A second stage will be powered by five J -2 engines,
W41? each p r oducing 200,000 pounds of thrust at alti-
ru[t T ANe
10x TANII tude. The third stage will have a single J-2
s• tY 1 engine. This combination will enable Saturn V
-7 •1CtN[ (t) t•GI
to launch 120 tons Into low orbit, 45 tons on
lunar missions, or 35 tons on planetary missions.
full TANK
The vehicle's tremendous lift-off force will be
y.. •
LOX TANK
produced by the five F-1 engines, each having
t-a the some thrust— 1 .5 million pounds—as all eight
f STA..!
of the H-1 engines in the first stage of Saturns I
I tNGi^i[S, 4S)
and IB.
LOX TANK Saturn V will be capable of sending the three
man Apollo spacecraft Into orbit around the
moon. The lunar landing will be mao^ with the
C '^ two-man Lunar Excursion Module (LEM), which
r1J[L TANK AG will be detached from the Apollo. After the
^L+ S1AGt
landing mission Is completed, the LEM will take
ENGINES, (S) 1^ off from the moon to make rendeLvous 4h the .J-
Apollo Spacecraft in lunar orbit for the return
journey to the earth.
Without the Apollo capsule, Saturn V will
stand 280 feet high.

LAUNCH VEHICLES IN THE NASA SPACE. PROGRAM


'vEi^itLE PURPOSE VEHICLE PURPOSE.

Scout For small satellite missions, high- Titan The vehicle for tsc Gemini program.
altitude p r obes, and re-entry ex- Atlas-Contour Will launch unmanned lunar and
periments. planetary missions and has capa-
Delta For a wide range of small payload bilities suitable for high velocity
so •Ilite missions interplanetary probes.
Thor-Agena 8 Used with Orbiting Geophysical Saturn I Will IauncH unmanned Apollo
Observatory (OGO) and the Echo spacecraft on eorlh-orbital test
11 communications satellite. flights.
Atlas-Agena 5 For large earth satellites, lunar Saturn 18 Some booster as Saturn I, but more
probes, cnd Interplanetary and thrust in second stage.
planetary exploration craft Saturn V The vehicle for the manned lunar
landing mission.

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noteboob ring insertion. punch at solid dots in Me mo.gins. eons Distribution Cantor Art&- I Washington D.C., Z^S40

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