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U.S. Space-Launch Vehicle Technology

Viking to Space Shuttle

J. D. Hunley

Publication Year: 2008

For nearly fifty years, a wide range of missiles and rockets has propelled U.S. satellites and spacecraft into the sky. J. D. Hunley's two-volume work traces the evolution of this technology, from Robert Goddard's research in the 1920s through the development of the Titan missiles and launch vehicles in the 1960s to the refinement of the space shuttle in the 1980s.

With the first book devoted primarily to military hardware and the second to launch vehicle hardware, Hunley offers a sweeping overview of these impressive engineering innovations as well as insights into the dynamic personalities responsible for them. Together, the two volumes offer a unique, invaluable history of rocketry that should appeal to a wide range of scholars and space buffs.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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pp. ii-ii

Title Page

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pp. iii-iii


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pp. vii-viii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xiii

This book and the volume that precedes it, Preludes to U.S. Space-Launch Vehicle Technology: Goddard Rockets to Minuteman III,1 address a significant gap in the literature about access to space. There are numerous and quite excellent volumes covering various aspects of missile and space-launch-vehicle ...

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pp. 1-9

Although black-powder rockets had been around for centuries, it was not until 1926 that American physicist and rocket developer Robert H. Goddard launched the first known liquid-propellant rocket. Despite this auspicious beginning, not until the mid-1950s did the United States begin to invest significant ...

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1. Viking and Vanguard, 1945–1959

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pp. 10-39

Although only a sounding rocket, the Navy’s Viking made direct contributions to launch vehicle technology. It was also the starting point for America’s second launch vehicle, Vanguard. Often regarded as a failure, Vanguard did launch more than one satellite. Together with Viking, it pioneered use of gimbals ...

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2. The Thor-Delta Family of Space-Launch Vehicles, 1958–1990

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pp. 40-82

The Thor missiles did not remain in operational use very long,1 but even before the Air Force retired them in 1963, it had begun to use Thor’s airframe and propulsive elements, including its vernier engines, as the first stages of various launch vehicles. With a series of upratings and modifications, Thor remained ...

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3. The Atlas Space-Launch Vehicle and Its Upper Stages, 1958–1990

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pp. 83-126

Even before it began its service as a missile, the Atlas had started to function as a space-launch vehicle. In December 1958 as part of Project Score, an entire Atlas (less its two jettisoned booster engines) went into temporary orbit carrying a repeater satellite that could receive messages from Earth and send them ...

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4. The Scout Family of Space-Launch Vehicles, 1956–1990

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pp. 127-157

The Scout series of launch vehicles was unique in American experience in several ways. It was the first multistage booster to operate exclusively with solid-propellant motors. It remained the smallest multistage vehicle in long-term use for orbital launches. And it was the only launch vehicle developed under ...

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5. Saturn I through Saturn V, 1958–1975

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pp. 158-219

By far the largest U.S. launch vehicle, Saturn V stood some 363 feet tall with its 80 feet of payload included. This made it taller than the Statue of Liberty—equivalent in height to a 36–story building and taller than a football field is long. Comprised of roughly five million parts, it was a complex mass of ...

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6. Titan Space-Launch Vehicles, 1961–1990

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pp. 220-264

While NASA was just getting started with the massive development effort for the Saturn launch vehicles, the Air Force began work on what became the Titan family of launch vehicles, beginning with the Titan IIIs and ending with Titan IVBs. Essentially, most of these vehicles consisted of upgraded Titan II cores ...

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7. The Space Shuttle, 1972–1991

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pp. 265-313

The space shuttle marked a radical departure from the general pattern of previous launch vehicles. Not only was it, unlike its predecessors, a (mostly) reusable launch vehicle; it was also part spacecraft and part airplane. In the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo launch vehicles, astronauts had occupied the payload ...

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8. The Art of Rocket Engineering

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pp. 314-324

Through the satellites and spacecraft that they have lifted into the heavens, since 1958 launch vehicles have brought remarkable changes to life on Earth. From what we watch on television to the way we wage war, Americans and people throughout the globe have come to depend on satellites. How did launch ...

Appendix. Notable Technological Achievements

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pp. 325-335


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pp. 337-391

Glossary of Terms, Acronyms, and Abbreviations

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pp. 393-402


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pp. 403-428


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pp. 429-453

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About the Author

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pp. 454-454

J. D. Hunley is a retired NASA historian. He has written The Development of Propulsion Technology for U.S. Space-Launch Vehicles, 1926–1991 (2007) and numerous ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780813048116
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813031781
Print-ISBN-10: 0813031788

Page Count: 456
Illustrations: 55 b&w photos, 5 tables
Publication Year: 2008

OCLC Number: 801848964
MUSE Marc Record: Download for U.S. Space-Launch Vehicle Technology

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Subject Headings

  • Launch vehicles (Astronautics) -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Rocketry -- United States -- History.
  • Space shuttles -- United States -- History.
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