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Atlas B (SM-65B)
Atlas B before the launch of SCORE (USAF)
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 kilometres (6.2 mi) Failure.[citation needed] A spilled gyroscope caused loss of control shortly after liftoff and missile self-destruction at T+30 seconds. Flight considered a "partial success" because the propulsion system functioned normally until vehicle breakup.
1958-08-02 22:16 LC-13 4B 900 kilometres (560 mi) Success
1958-08-29 04:30 LC-11 5B 900 kilometres (560 mi) Success
1958-09-14 05:24 LC-14 8B 900 kilometres (560 mi) Success
1958-09-18 21:27 LC-13 6B 100 kilometres (62 mi) Failure. Turbopump malfunction at T+60 seconds.[citation needed]
1958-11-18 04:00 LC-11 9B 800 kilometres (500 mi) Partial failure. Excessive fuel consumption by the sustainer engine led to premature cutoff.[citation needed]
1958-11-29 02:27 LC-14 12B 900 kilometres (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 kilometres (62 mi) Failure. Loss of thrust at T+100 seconds due to overheating in the boattail section. Also used elongated propellant tanks.
1959-02-04 08:01 LC-11 11B 900 kilometres (560 mi) Success[citation needed]

See also


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