SP-4402 Origins of NASA Names

 

I. Launch Vehicles

 


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Dr. Robert H. Goddard with the world's first liquid-propellant rocket, launched 16 March 1926 at Auburn, Massachussetts.

Dr. Robert H. Goddard with the world's first liquid-propellant rocket, launched 16 March 1926 at Auburn, Massachusetts.


 

[3] Launch vehicles are the rocket-powered systems that provide transportation from the earth's surface into the environment of space. In the early days of the U.S. civilian space program the term "launch vehicle" was used by NASA in preference to the term "booster" because "booster" had been associated with the development of the military missiles. "Booster" now has crept back into the vernacular of the Space Age and is used interchangeably with "launch vehicle."

In 1971 NASA managed five launch vehicles in the National Launch Vehicle Program: Scout, Thor-Delta, Atlas-Centaur, Saturn IB, and Saturn V. In 1974 a new combination, the Titan-Centaur, launched its first satellite. Performance capability of these vehicles varied greatly, ranging from Scout, which was used to launch small scientific payloads, to Saturn V, which launched manned Apollo missions into circumlunar flight. Beginning in the 1980s, NASA's reusable Space Shuttle was scheduled to replace many expendable boosters for orbiting satellites and manned missions (see Space Shuttle in Part IV).

Names listed in this section include designations of launch vehicles and major vehicle stages, or sections, that are used or have been used in the past by NASA. Nearly all the names came from the military services or the Department of Defense, which traditionally turned to ancient mythology in selecting names for ballistic missiles and space boosters.

 


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Thor-Able.

Thor-Able.

 

ABLE. The Able upper stage was one of several derived in 1958 by the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency, Douglas Aircraft Company, and Space Technology Laboratories from Vanguard launch vehicle components. It was used with Thor or Atlas first stages. The name signified "A" or "first" (from military phonetic communications practice of stipulating key words beginning with each letter of the alphabet).1 (See Delta.)

 


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Thor-Agena B before launch from the Pacific Missile Range

Thor-Agena B before launch from the Pacific Missile Range, at left. Opposite [below,p7] the Gemini Agena Target Vehicle as seen from the Gemini 8 spacecraft during approach for rendezvous and docking 16 March 1966.


 

AGENA. An upper-stage launch vehicle used in combination with Thor or Atlas first stages, Agena originally was developed for the U.S. Air Force by Lockheed Missiles Systems Division (now Lockheed Missiles & Space Company). The Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) proposed to name the stage in 1958 for the star Agena in the constellation Centaurus because the rocket was an upper stage "igniting in the sky."1 "Agena" first appeared in the Geography of the Heavens, published in the 1800s by the "popularizing Connecticut astronomer" Elija H. Burritt, and was preserved in American dictionaries as the popular name for the.....

 


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the Gemini Agena Target Vehicle as seen from the Gemini 8 spacecraft during approach for rendezvous and docking 16 March 1966


 

....star Beta Centauri.2 Burritt was thought to have coined the name from alpha and gena ("the knee") because he had located the star near the "right foreleg" of the constellation.3 Lockheed approved the choice of the name since it followed Lockheed's tradition of naming aircraft and missiles after stellar phenomena-such as the Constellation aircraft and Polaris intercontinental ballistic missile.4 ARPA formally approved the name in June 1959.5

Agena A, the first version of the stage, was followed by the Agena B, which had a larger fuel capacity and engines that could restart in space. The later Agena D was standardized to provide a launch vehicle for a variety of military and NASA payloads.6 NASA used Atlas-Agena vehicles to launch large earth satellites as well as lunar and interplanetary space probes; Thor-Agena vehicles launched scientific satellites, such as OGO (Orbiting Geophysical Observatory) and Alouette, and applications satellites, such as the Echo 2 communications satellite and Nimbus meteorological satellites. In Project Gemini the Agena D, modified to suit the specialized requirements of space rendezvous and docking maneuvers, became the Gemini Agena Target Vehicle (GATV).

 


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Launch of Mercury-Atlas carrying Astronaut John H.Glenn, Jr., in Friendship 7 for the first U.S. manned orbital space flight 20 February 1962.

Launch of Mercury-Atlas carrying Astronaut John H.Glenn, Jr., in Friendship 7 for the first U.S. manned orbital space flight 20 February 1962.

 

Atlas (Courtesy Library of Congress).

Atlas (Courtesy Library of Congress).


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Models of Atlas upper-stage configurations. Left to right: Atlas, Atlas-Agena, Mercury-Atlas, Atlas-Centaur, Atlas-Able.

Models of Atlas upper-stage configurations. Left to right: Atlas, Atlas-Agena, Mercury-Atlas, Atlas-Centaur, Atlas-Able.

 

ATLAS. The Atlas launch vehicle was an adaptation of the U.S. Air Force Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile. The modified Atlas launched the four manned orbital flights in Project Mercury and NASA used it with the Agena or Centaur upper stages for a variety of unmanned space missions.

Early in 1951 Karel J. Bossart, head of the design team at Convair (Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation) that was working on the missile project for the Air Force, decided the project (officially listed as MX-1593) should have a popular name. He asked some of his staff for ideas and they considered several possibilities before agreeing upon "Atlas"-Bossart's own suggestion. The missile they were designing would be the biggest and most powerful yet devised. Bossart recalled that Atlas was the mighty god of ancient Greek mythology who supported the world on his powerful shoulders. The appropriateness of the name seemed confirmed by the fact that the parent company of Convair was the Atlas Corporation.1 The suggestion was submitted to the Air Force and was approved by the Department of Defense Research and Development Board's Committee on Guided Missiles in August 1951.2

The Atlas-Centaur, a high-energy vehicle for launching medium-weight spacecraft into planetary or synchronous orbits, could put 4,700 kilograms into 555-kilometer orbit or 1,810 kilograms into transfer orbit for a synchronous orbit.3 (See Centaur.)

 

[10] BIG JOE. "Big Joe" was the name of a single Atlas booster and its test flight. Part of Project Mercury, Big Joe tested a full-scale Mercury capsule at full operational speed for the critical reentry into the earth's atmosphere. It was a key test of the heatshield, in preparation for Mercury's manned orbital space flights. The name, which developed in 1958, was attributed to Maxime A. Faget, then at Langley Research Center. It was a logical progression from the previously named Little Joe, a smaller test booster for demonstration flight tests in Project Mercury.1 (See Little Joe.)

 


Big Joe before launch at Cape Canaveral.

Big Joe before launch at Cape Canaveral.


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Atlas-Centaur.

Atlas-Centaur.

 

CENTAUR. Centaur was known from 1956 to 1958 simply as the "high-energy upper stage" because it proposed to make first use of the theoretically powerful but problem-making liquid hydrogen as fuel. The stage was named in November 1958 when the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) awarded the initial contract for six research and development flight-test vehicles to Convair/Astronautics Division of General Dynamics Corporation. The Centaur stage was required to increase the payload capability of the Atlas and to provide a versatile second stage for use in complex space missions. Krafft Ehricke of General Dynamics, who conceived the vehicle and directed its development, proposed the name and ARPA approved it. The name derived from the legendary Centaur, half man and half horse. The horse portion represented the "workhorse" Atlas, the "brawn" of the launch vehicle; the man represented the Centaur-...

 


Centaur figures (courtesy of the Library of Congress).

Centaur figures (courtesy of the Library of Congress).

 

[12] ...which, containing the payload and guidance, was in effect the "brain" of the Atlas-Centaur combination. Eugene C. Keefer of Convair was credited with proposing the name to Ehricke.1

NASA, which received management responsibility for the Atlas-Centaur, used the launch vehicle in the Intelsat IV series of comsats and the Surveyor series of space probes. Centaur was also used to launch some of the larger satellites and space probes-such as OAO 2 and 3, ATS 5, and the heavier Mariner and Pioneer space probes-and was mated with the Air Force Titan III for the heavier payloads flown in the mid-1970s. NASA launched the U.S.-German Helios I into orbit of the sun on a Titan IIIE-Centaur on 10 December 1974. (See also Atlas and Titan.)

 

DELTA. When NASA was formed in 1958 it inherited from the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) the booster programs using combinations of Thor or Atlas boosters with Vanguard upper stages. The first of these upper-stage configurations was designated "Able."1 The Delta was similar to the previous Thor-based combinations and was a fourth-or "D"-version. Milton W. Rosen of NASA was responsible for the name. He had been referring to the combination as "Delta," which became the firm choice in January 1959 when a name was required because NASA was signing a contract for the booster. The vehicle was variously called "Delta" and "Thor-Delta."2

Over the years the Thor-Delta was repeatedly uprated by additions and modifications. The liftoff thrust of the Thor first stage was increased in 1964 by adding three strapped-on solid-propellant rocket motors. With the Delta second stage, the launch vehicle was called "thrust-augmented Delta" (TAD). In 1964 NASA undertook upgrading the Delta capability by enlarging the second-stage fuel tanks. When this more powerful version-...

 


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Thor-Delta.

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Thrust-Augmented improved Delta.

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Straight Eight Thor-Delta with nine strap-on rockets.

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Thor-Delta.

Thrust-Augmented improved Delta.

Straight Eight Thor-Delta with nine strap-on rockets.

 

....introduced in 1965 and designated "improved Delta"-was used with the thrust-augmented Thor first stage, the vehicle was called "thrust-augmented improved Delta" (TAID). In 1968 NASA incorporated an elongated Thor first stage with added fuel capacity for heavier payloads, and the three strapped-on motors were uprated. This version, with the improved Delta second stage, was called "long-tank thrust-augmented Thor-Delta (LTTAT-Delta), or "thrust-augmented long-tank Delta."3

The "Super Six" version, with six strap-on Castor rockets for extra thrust, was first used in 1970, and nine strap-ons went into use in 1972. A more powerful third stage, TE-364-4, was also introduced in 1972, as was the "Straight Eight" Thor-Delta, with 2.4-meter (8-foot) diameter for all three stages including the fairing. The wider fairing could accommodate larger spacecraft. 4

In 1960 the Thor-Delta placed 60 kilograms in a 1,600-kilometer orbit By....

 


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Juno I, above, on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral before launching Explorer 1 on 31 January 1958.

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At right, Little Joe launch in a test of the Mercury spacecraft.

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Juno I, above, on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral before launching Explorer 1 on 31 January 1958. At right, Little Joe launch in a test of the Mercury spacecraft.

 

Juno (courtesy of the Library of Congress).

Juno (courtesy of the Library of Congress).

 

[15] ....the end of 1974, the vehicle could launch a 700-kilogram spacecraft into orbit for transfer to a 35 500-kilometer synchronous orbit, an 1800-kilogram payload into a 185-kilometer orbit, or 386 kilograms on a trajectory to Mars or Venus. 5

The economical, reliable Thor-Delta was a workhorse vehicle used for a wide range of medium satellites and small space probes in two-stage or three-stage combinations, with three, six, or nine strap-on thrust-augmenter rockets. Among its many credits were meteorological satellites (Tiros, TOS), communications satellites (Echo, Telstar, Relay, Syncom, Intelsat), scientific satellites (Ariel, Explorer, OSO), and the Earth Resources Satellite ERTS 1. The vehicle's first three-satellite launch orbited NOAA 4, OSCAR 7, and INTASAT on 15 November 1974.

 

JUNO. Juno I and Juno II were early launch vehicles adapted from existing U.S. Army missiles by the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The ancient Roman goddess Juno, queen of the gods, was the sister and wife of Jupiter, king of the gods. Since the new launch vehicle was the satellite-launching version of the Jupiter C (Jupiter Composite Reentry Test Vehicle), the name Juno was suggested by Dr. William H. Pickering, JPL Director, in November 1957. Army officials approved the proposal and the name was adopted.1

Juno I, a four-stage configuration of the Jupiter C, orbited the first U.S. satellite, Explorer 1, 31 January 1958. The "UE" painted on the Redstone first stage of that Juno I indicated that the Redstone was No. 29 in a series of launches. The ABMA code for numbering Redstone boosters was based on the word "HUNTSVILLE," with each letter representing a number, after deletion of the second "l" to avoid confusion:

 

H U N T S V I L E 2

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9.

 

Later that year, at the request of the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency, ABMA and JPL designed the Juno II, which was based on the Jupiter intercontinental ballistic missile and had the upper stages of the Juno I. Responsibility for Juno II was transferred to NASA after its establishment 1 October 1958. Juno II vehicles launched three Explorer satellites and two Pioneer space probes. "Juno V" was the early designation of the launch vehicle that became the Saturn I.3

 

LITTLE JOE. A relatively simple and inexpensive launch vehicle, Little Joe was designed specifically to test the Mercury spacecraft abort system in a series of suborbital flights. Based on a cluster of four solid-propellant rocket motors, as conceived by Langley Research Center's Maxime A. Faget and [16] Paul E. Purser, the booster acquired its name in 1958 as Faget's nickname for the project gradually was adopted. The configuration used in the tests added four Recruit rockets, but the original concept was for four Pollux rocket motors fired two at a time-a pair of twos. "Since their first cross-section drawings showed four holes up, they called the project 'Little Joe,' from the crap game throw of a double deuce on the dice.... The appearance on engineering drawings of the four large stabilizing fins protruding from its airframe also helped to perpetuate the name Little Joe had acquired." 1 Little Joe II was similar in design and was used to check out the Apollo spacecraft abort system.

 

REDSTONE. Predecessor of the Jupiter and Juno rockets, Redstone was a battlefield missile developed by the U.S. Army and adapted for use by NASA as a launch vehicle for suborbital space flights in Project Mercury. After being called various nicknames, including "Ursa" and "Major," the missile was officially named "Redstone" 8 April 1952 for the Army installation Redstone Arsenal at Huntsville, Alabama, where it was developed. 1 The name of the Arsenal, in turn, referred to the rock and soil at Huntsville. 2

On 5 May 1961, the Redstone launched the first U.S. astronaut, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., into suborbital flight on the Freedom 7 in Project Mercury.

 


Launch of Mercury-Redstone from Cape Canaveral 5 May 1961, carrying Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr., on the first U.S. manned space flight.

Launch of Mercury-Redstone from Cape Canaveral 5 May 1961, carrying Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr., on the first U.S. manned space flight.



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Saturn I being readied for launch from Cape Kennedy with boilerplate model of the Apollo spacecraft.

Saturn I being readied for launch from Cape Kennedy with boilerplate model of the Apollo spacecraft.

 

SATURN I, SATURN IB. Evolution of nomenclature for the Saturn family of launch vehicles was one of the most complex of all NASA-associated names. On 15 August 1958 the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) approved initial work on a multistage launch vehicle with clustered engines in a 6.7-million-newton-thrust (1.5-million-pound-thrust) first stage. Conceived by designers at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA), the vehicle was unofficially known as "Juno V." (Juno III and Juno IV were concepts for space vehicles to follow Juno II but were not built.) 1

In October 1958 Dr. Wernher von Braun, the Director of ABMA's Development Operations Division, proposed the Juno V be renamed "Saturn," and on 3 February 1959 ARPA officially approved the name change. The name "Saturn" was significant for three reasons: the planet Saturn appeared brighter than a first-magnitude star, so the association of this name with such a powerful new booster seemed appropriate; Saturn was the next planet after Jupiter, so the progression was analogous to ABMA's progression from missile and space systems called "Jupiter"; and Saturn was the name of an ancient Roman god, so the name was in keeping with the U.S. military's custom of naming missiles after mythological gods and heroes. 2

Throughout the second half of 1959, studies were made of possible upper stages for the new Saturn vehicle. The interagency Saturn Vehicle Evaluation Committee* considered many combinations, narrowing the choice to....

 


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Saturn IB, above, on the launch pad at Complex 34 and Saturn of mythology (courtesy of the Library of Congress). At right, the rollout of Saturn V for the launch of Apollo 8 to the moon.

 

Saturn IB, above, on the launch pad at Complex 34 and Saturn of mythology (courtesy of the Library of Congress). At right, the rollout of Saturn V for the launch of Apollo 8 to the moon.

 

[19] ....design concepts labeled "Saturn A," "Saturn B," and "Saturn C." In December 1959, following the recommendation of this committee, NASA authorized building 10 research and development models of the first "C" version, or "Saturn C-l" design proposal. 3 For the time being the booster was called "Saturn C-l."

In the meantime Saturn became a NASA project and also had become an important link with the Nation's manned lunar program, Project Apollo. In 1962, NASA decided a more powerful version of the Saturn C-l would be needed to launch Apollo lunar spacecraft into earth orbit, to prepare and train for manned flights to the moon later in the 1960s. NASA called this launch vehicle "Saturn C-1B."4 In February 1963, NASA renamed these vehicles. At the suggestion of the NASA Project Designation Committee, Saturn C-1 became simply "Saturn I" and the Saturn C-1B, "Saturn IB." 5 The Saturn IB was composed of the S-IB first stage, a modified version of the S-I first stage that could develop 7.1 million newtons (1.6 million pounds) of thrust by 1973, and the S-IVB second stage an uprated version of the S-IV stage that could develop 1 million newtons (230 000 pounds) of thrust.

On 9 June 1966 NASA changed the name of the Saturn IB to "Uprated Saturn I." The redesignation was suggested to the Project Designation Committee by Dr. George E. Mueller, NASA Associate Administrator for Manned Space Flight. "The Committee agreed with Dr. Mueller that the booster is actually an uprated Saturn I and should be so called." 6 In December 1967, however, NASA decided to return to the use of the simpler term, "Saturn IB." The proposal was made by the Office of Manned Space Flight and approved by Administrator James E. Webb. 7

The Saturn IB launched the first manned Apollo spacecraft, Apollo 7, on successful flight 11 October 1968 and, after the completion of the Apollo program, launched three missions to man the Skylab Orbital Workshop in 1973. It was scheduled to launch the American crew in the July 1975 U.S.-U.S.S.R. Apollo-Soyuz Test Project docking mission.

 

SATURN V. In January 1962 NASA initiated development of the large launch vehicle for Project Apollo manned lunar flight. The vehicle selected was the Saturn C-5, chosen after six months of studying the relative merits of Saturn C-3, C-4, and C-5 designs.1 These designs were all based on a large clustered-engine first stage but with various combinations of upper stages. The numerical designation followed the sequence established with the Saturn C-1 (see Saturn I, where the origin of the name "Saturn" also is explained).

[20] Alternately referred to in 1962 as "Advanced Saturn," the Saturn C-5 was renamed early the following year. Nominations were submitted to the NASA Project Designation Committee as well as proposed by the Committee members themselves. After considering many alternate names-the leading contender for a while was "Kronos"-the Committee suggested, through Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs George L. Simpson, Jr., to NASA Associate Administrator, Dr. Robert C. Seamans, Jr., that the new name be "Saturn V." 2 The recommendation was approved and the new name adopted early in February 1963. 3

The final configuration of the Saturn V comprised the S-IC first stage with 34-million-newton (7.7-million-pound) thrust, the S-II second stage with 5.1 -million-newton (1 .2-million-pound) thrust, and the S-IVB stage of the Saturn IB.4

On 21 December 1968 the Saturn V launched Apollo 8, the first manned Apollo spacecraft to escape the earth's gravitational field, into flight around the moon. Saturn V launches through Apollo 17 in December 1972 put 27 men into lunar orbit, 12 of them landing on the moon to explore its surface. On 14 May 1973 the Saturn V orbited the first U.S. experimental space station, the Skylab I Orbital Workshop, which was manned by three successive three-man crews during the year.

 

SCOUT. The Scout launch vehicle was named in mid-1958 by William E. Stoney, Jr., prominent in development of the vehicle at NACA Langley Aeronautical Laboratory (later NASA Langley Research Center). He thought of the name as a parallel to "Explorer," a name being given to a series of spacecraft. "Scout" seemed appropriate for a vehicle with payloads performing similar tasks-"scouting the frontiers of space environment and paving the way" for future space exploration. 1

Smallest of the basic launch vehicles, Scout was designed at Langley as a reliable, relatively inexpensive launch vehicle for high-altitude probes, reentry experiments, and small-satellite missions. Among the satellites it launched were scientific satellites such as Explorers and international satellites such as the San Marco series. It was the only U.S. satellite launch vehicle to use solid propellants exclusively; the stages for Scout had grown out of the technology developed in the Polaris and Minuteman programs. The Air Force, which used Scout to launch Department of Defense spacecraft, called its version " Blue Scout. "

Scout usually consisted of four stages and could put 186 kilograms into a 555-kilometer orbit.2 The first stage, "Algol," was named for a star in the constellation Perseus; the second stage, "Castor," for the "tamer of the horses" in the constellation Gemini; the third stage, "Antares," for the....

 


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Scout on the launch pad at Wallops Flight Center

Below, Shotput ready at Wallops.

Scout on the launch pad at Wallops Flight Center, at left. Below [right], Shotput ready at Wallops.

 

....brightest star in the constellation Scorpio; and the fourth stage, "Altair," for a star in the constellation Aquila.3 In June 1974 a new Scout E, in- corporating a solid-fueled rocket motor in a fifth stage and adaptable for highly eccentric orbits, launched the Hawkeye 1 Explorer satellite. 4

 

SHOTPUT. A special-purpose composite rocket to test balloon-satellite ejection and inflation in space, Shotput was used in five launches from Wallops Station in 1959 and 1960 in tests of the Echo I satellite payload. It was also [22] used to test the Italian San Marco satellite in suborbital flights. The solid-propellant Shotput vehicle consisted of a first-stage Sergeant rocket boosted by two Recruit rockets and a second stage X-248 rocket that later was used as the third stage of the Delta launch vehicle. 1 Shotput launched the balloon payload to a 400-kilometer altitude, where the packaged sphere was ejected from the vehicle's nose and inflated above the atmosphere. Shotput was so named because it " tossed" the Echo sphere up above the earth's atmosphere in a vertical trajectory. 2

 

THOR. Adapted for use as a launch vehicle in combination with various upper stages, Thor was originally developed as a U.S. Air Force intermediate-range ballistic missile by Douglas Aircraft Company. The name, which came into use in 1955, 1 derived from the ancient Norse god of thunder- "the strongest of gods and men." 2

The origin of the name has been traced back to Joe Rowland, Director of Public Relations at the Martin Company, who was assigned to suggest names for Martin's new intercontinental ballistic missile in preparation for a meeting at Air Research and Development Command (ARDC) Headquarters. At the meeting were to be representatives of other missile contractors, Convair/Astronautics Division of General Dynamics Corporation and Douglas Aircraft Company. Of Rowland's list of proposed names, "Titan" was the one preferred by his colleagues, with "Thor" as second choice. At the ARDC meeting, the first-choice "Titan" was accepted as the appropriate name for the Martin Company's project. Through a misunderstanding, Douglas had prepared no name to propose for its missile. Rowland-with "Titan" now firm for his company's project-offered his alternate "Thor" to Donald Douglas, Jr. Douglas and his Vice President of Public Relations agreed it was an attractive name and proposed it to ARDC officials; it was officially adopted. 3

NASA used Thor as a first stage with both Agena and Delta upper stages. The Air Force-developed "thrust-augmented Thor" (TAT), with three added solid-propellant rocket motors strapped on the base of the Thor, also was used with both Agena and Delta upper stages. When TAT was used with Agena, the configuration was called "thrust-augmented Thor-Agena"; 4 with Delta, the vehicle was known as "thrust-augmented Delta" (TAD) or "thrust-augmented Thor-Delta" (TAT-Delta).

In 1966 the Air Force procured a new version of the Thor first stage, elongated to increase fuel capacity, for heavier payloads-the "long-tank thrust-augmented Thor" (LTTAT), sometimes also called "Thorad." LTTAT used with an Agena upper stage was called "long-tank thrust-augmented Thor-Agena" or "Thorad-Agena." 5 With Delta, it was "long-....

 


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Thor-Delta, above in countdown for the Telstar 1 launch. At right, the long-tank Thor-Delta poised for launch from the ETR. The Norse god Thor at left (courtesy of the Library of Congress).

Thor-Delta, above in countdown for the Telstar 1 launch. At right, the long-tank Thor-Delta poised for launch from the ETR. The Norse god Thor at left (courtesy of the Library of Congress).

 

...tank thrust-augmented Thor-Delta. " NASA began using the long-tank Thor with the improved Delta second stage in 1968, going to six strap-on rockets for extra thrust in 1970 and introducing nine strap-on rockets in 1972. Combinations varied according to the performance needed for the mission. (See Delta.)

 


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Gemini-Titan 1 on the launch pad at Cape Kennedy during prelaunch tests (far left) and Titan IIIE-Centaur.

 

Gemini-Titan 1 on the launch pad at Cape Kennedy during prelaunch tests (far left) and Titan IIIE-Centaur.

 

[25] TITAN. The Titan II launch vehicle was adapted from the U.S. Air Force intercontinental ballistic missile to serve as the Gemini launch vehicle in NASA's second manned spaceflight program. Originating in 1955, the name "Titan" was proposed by Joe Rowland, Director of Public Relations at the Martin Company, producer of the missile for the Air Force. Rowland was assigned the task of suggesting possible names for the project, requested of Martin by the Air Research and Development Command. Of the list of possible names, "Titan" was preferred. 1 He took the name from Roman mythology: the Titans were a race of giants who inhabited the earth before men were created. ARDC approved the nomination and "Titan" became the official name. When the improved version of the missile was developed, the original Titan came to be known as Titan I and the second, Titan II. 2 Titan II was chosen as the Gemini launch vehicle because greater thrust was required to orbit the three-and-a-half-metric-ton Gemini spacecraft; also its storable fuels promised the split-second launch needed for rendezvous with the target vehicle.

The Titan III-an improved Titan II with two solid-propellant strap-on rockets-was developed for use by the Air Force as a standardized launch vehicle that could lift large payloads into earth orbit. NASA contracted for Titan III vehicles for a limited number of missions to begin in the mid-1970s: ATS satellites would require the Titan IIIC vehicles and HEAO satellites, the Titan IIID configuration. Interplanetary missions requiring high-velocity escape trajectories-the Viking Mars probes and Helios solar probes-began using the Titan III-Centaur configuration on completion of the Centaur integration program in 1974. A Titan IIIE-Centaur launched Helios I into orbit of the sun 10 December 1974.

In 1974 the Titan IIIC-which launched ATS 6 on 30 May 1974-could put an 11 820-kilogram payload into a 555-kilometer orbit or 1500 kilograms into synchronous orbit. The Titan IIIE-Centaur could launch 5135 kilograms into an earth-escape orbit or 3960 kilograms to Mars or Venus. 3

 


At right, Ocean, one of the Titans of mythology (courtesy of the Library of Congress).

At right, Ocean, one of the Titans of mythology (courtesy of the Library of Congress).


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Vanguard.

Vanguard.

 

[27] VANGUARD. The name "Vanguard," adopted in 1955, applied to the U.S. International Geophysical Year satellite project as well as to the launch vehicle developed to orbit the satellites (see Vanguard under Satellites). Stages of the Vanguard rocket were later adapted to the NASA Delta vehicle.

 


* Chaired by NASA's Abe Silverstein and often referred to as "the Silverstein Committee," the committee was composed of representatives of NASA, ARPA, DOD, and USAF.


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