INNOVATION AND THE ICBM
the Soviet Union and the United States developed powerful missiles
to deliver nuclear weapons. The U.S. deployed the Atlas, Titan, Minuteman,
and Peacekeeper (MX) intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) on
land and the Polaris, Poseidon, and Trident submarine-launched ballistic
missiles at sea.
advances in technology, missiles became more accurate, could be
launched on short notice, and could carry multiple warheads. These
advances, which made missiles more effective, also made them more
inviting targets for attack.
ATLAS AND TITAN:
MISSILES USED FOR SPACEFLIGHTAmerica's
first ICBMs, the Atlas and Titan missiles, also saw duty in the civilian
space program as launch vehicles for spacecraft.
first carried the Mercury spacecraft bearing astronaut John Glenn
into orbit in 1962. Later, Atlas missiles were mated to Able, Agena,
and Centaur upper stages to create launch vehicles for a variety
of American spacecraft.
IIs launched all 10 Gemini missions in 1965 and 1966. Later, Titans
were fitted with upper stages and strap-on boosters to launch large
planetary spacecraft and military satellites.
Atlas ICBM was deployed from 1959 to 1965. It was a "stage-and-a-half"
liquid-propellant rocket with one main engine between two booster
engines. The Museum's rocketry collection includes two Atlas launch
vehicles, which are displayed at NASA visitor centers in Alabama and