Aerobee Nose Cone Shell


Display Status:

This object is on display in the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Aerobee Nose Cone Shell

Collection Item Summary:

This is the Agena-B upper stage used during the 1960s as an orbital injection vehicle for Midas and other satellites. It was also an intermediate stage booster for Ranger and early Mariner space probes. Made by Lockheed, it was fitted on the Thor or Atlas-D launch vehicles that became known as the Thor-Agena and Atlas-Agena.

Most notably, Agena-B also served as the Corona photo reconnaissance satellite which then flew under the cover name Discoverer. Agena-B used a restartable and gimbaled liquid-fuel rocket engine made by the Bell Aerospace Company. This Agena-B was transferred from the U.S. Air Force to the Smithsonian Institution in 1965.

Collection Item Long Description:



Inventory Number


Credit Line

Transferred from the U.S. Air Force

Country of Origin

United States of America


  • Aluminum
  • Steel
  • Gold Plating
  • Rubber
  • Plastic
  • Foam
  • Fiberglass
  • Thoriated Magnesium


Overall: 285 5/8 in. long x 60 in. diameter, 1810 lb. (725.43 x 152.4cm, 821kg)

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum



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