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An Atlas-Able launching Pioneer P-30
Function Expendable launch system
Manufacturer Convair
General Dynamics
Country of origin United States
Launch history
Status Retired
Launch sites LC-12, 13 & 14, Cape Canaveral
Total launches 3
Failures 3
First flight 26 November 1959
Last flight 15 December 1960

The Atlas-Able was an American expendable launch system derived from the SM-65 Atlas missile. It was a member of the Atlas family of rockets, and was used to launch several Pioneer spacecraft towards the Moon. Of the five Atlas-Able rockets built, two failed during static firings, and the other three failed to reach orbit.[1]

The Atlas-Able was a three-and-a-half-stage rocket, with a stage-and-a-half Atlas missile as the first stage, an Able second stage, and an Altair third stage.[2] The first Atlas-Able used an Atlas C as the first stage,[3] but this exploded during a static fire test on 24 September 1959.[4]

The remaining launches used Atlas D missiles. Launches were conducted from Launch Complexes 12 and 14 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. One launch was planned from Launch Complex 13; this became the second Atlas-Able to be destroyed during a static firing, and hence never launched.[1]


  1. ^ a b Encyclopedia Astronautica - Atlas
  2. ^ Gunter's Space Page - Atlas-D Able
  3. ^ Gunter's Space Page - Atlas-C Able
  4. ^ Space Review, The Pioneer lunar orbiters: a forgotten failure, by Andrew J. LePage, Monday, December 13, 2010

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