Launch of a Thor-Ablestar 2 with a Transit satellite
|Function||Orbital carrier rocket|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Height||29 metres (95 ft)|
|Diameter||2.44 metres (8 ft 0 in)|
|Mass||53,000 kilograms (117,000 lb)|
|150 kilograms (330 lb)|
|Launch sites||LC-17, Canaveral
|First flight||13 April 1960|
|Last flight||13 August 1965|
|First Stage - Thor|
|Thrust||760.64 kilonewtons (171,000 lbf)|
|Specific impulse||285 sec|
|Burn time||164 seconds|
|Second Stage - Ablestar|
|Thrust||36.02 kilonewtons (8,100 lbf)|
|Specific impulse||280 sec|
|Burn time||296 seconds|
The Thor-Ablestar, or Thor Able-Star, also known as Thor-Epsilon was an early American expendable launch system consisting of a PGM-17 Thor missile, with an Ablestar upper stage. It was a member of the Thor family of rockets, and was derived from the Thor-Able.
The Ablestar second stage was an enlarged version of the Able, which gave the Thor-Ablestar a greater payload capacity compared to the Thor-Able. It also incorporated restart capabilities, allowing a multiple-burn trajectory to be flown, further increasing payload, or allowing the rocket to reach different orbits. It was the first rocket to be developed with such a capability.
Nineteen Thor-Ablestars were launched between 1960 and 1965, of which four failed, and a fifth resulted in a partial failure, as only one of two payloads separated from the upper stage. Two versions were built; the Thor-Ablestar 1, with a DM-21 Thor, and an AJ-10-104 second stage engine, and the Thor-Ablestar 2, which had a DSV-2A Thor first stage, and an uprated AJ-10-104D engine on the second stage. Thor-Ablestar 1 launches occurred from LC-17 at Cape Canaveral, and Thor-Ablestar 2 rockets were launched from LC-75-1 at Point Arguello, which has since become part of Vandenberg Air Force Base and is now designated SLC-2.
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