Launch Vehicle History
Since the dawn of the "space age," NASA Glenn has been pioneering rocket engine and propellant technology. This early research resulted in the development of the Centaur upper stage, one of Glenn's most significant achievements. The technology made significant contributions to the Apollo program, enabling the massive payloads to be sent into the Moon.
For almost 30 years, the Center was responsible for the management of design, building and launch of the Atlas/Centaur (shown above) and Titan/Centaur booster vehicles. Lewis (now Glenn) also managed the Agena upper stage on several booster vehicles. The Center managed the launches of a variety of communications, weather, planetary exploration, and scientific payloads. Information gathered by these spacecraft has enhanced our daily lives and expanded our knowledge of the universe. Most notable are the Surveyor, Pioneer, Viking, and Voyager missions which studied the Moon, Mars, and the outer planets, respectively. All together, Lewis managed over 119 unmanned launches.
In the 1990's, Lewis was responsible for the overall management of commercial launch services for intermediate and large, expendable launch vehicles for NASA and other Government payloads. This role ended on October 1, 1998 when the Center's responsibilities were transferred to the Kennedy Space Center. Glenn continues to support industry by developing and testing new launch vehicle technologies and hardware through cooperative programs.
The Final Chapters
Lewis managed Atlas/Centaur-121 on December 2, 1995 which launched the SOHO scientific mission aboard an Atlas IIAS rocket, NASA's first use of this commercial version of the vehicle. The Center also has managed several launches of GOES next-generation weather satellites. The most recent was GOES-K aboard Atlas/Centaur-79 on April 25, 1997, the final launch of the Atlas I rocket.
Lewis' final launch was the Cassini Spacecraft aboard a Titan IV-B/Centaur, which lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Station on October 15, 1997. Cassini is a deep-space mission, managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab. It will arrive at Saturn in June 2004. Upon arrival, it will send a probe into the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan, then continue on a 4-year tour of other moons, using repeated gravity assists from Titan to shape the trajectory to satisfy science objectives.
- Launch of the Cassini mission aboard a Titan IV-B/Centaur on October 15, 1997: [1 MB mpeg]
- Launch of the GOES-K/10 weather satellite aboard AC-79 Atlas I on April 25, 1997: [699 KB mpeg] or [6.9 MB Quicktime]
- Launch of the SOHO solar scientific mission aboard Atlas/Centaur-121 on Saturday December 2, 1995 [mpeg, 1 MB] or [quicktime, 16 MB]
- Launch of the GOES-J/9 weather satellite aboard Atlas/Centaur-77 on Tuesday May 23, 1995.
- Launch of the GOES-I/8 weather satellite aboard Atlas/Centaur-73 [mpeg, 554 K] on April 13, 1994.
- Launch of Combined Release and Radiation Effects Satellite (CRRES) aboard Atlas/Centaur-69 [311K mpeg] on July 25, 1990.
- Launch of Voyager 1 aboard Titan/Centaur-6 [230K mpeg] on September 5, 1977.
- Launch of Pioneer 10 aboard Atlas/Centaur-27 [1.2 Meg MPEG] on March 2, 1972.
- Launch of Mariner V aboard Atlas/Agena-D [ 6 K JPEG] on June 14, 1967.
- Launch of Ranger 9 aboard Atlas/Agena-D [ 9 K JPEG] on March 21, 1965.
Lewis Expendable Launch Vehicle Record
Launch History by Vehicle
|Complete NASA Lewis Launch History Listing
Last Updated: November 13, 2001