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Atlas-D OV1

Atlas-D OV1 (single, side mounted) (OV1 1) [USAF]

Atlas-D OV1 (dual, top mounted) (OV1 9, OV1 10) [USAF]

Atlas-D OV1 (dual, top mounted, with side mounted suborbital pod) (OV1 7, OV1 8) [USAF]

Atlas-D OV1 (triple, 2 top mounted, 1 side mounted) (OV1 11, OV1 12 and OV1 86) [USAF]

The Atlas-D OV1 was unique system to launch small research satellites, where each satellite had its own independent OV1 upper stage.

The original intent of the OV1 (Orbiting Vehicle 1) system was, to provide orbital launch opportunities during regular suborbital Atlas-D ICBM test flights. As Atlas-D provided the opportunity to fly side mounted research pods, the OV1 system was built around such a pod. The pod, called ARS (Atlas Retained Structure) featured a side-mounted door, to deploy the upper stage satellite combination.

The Convair (General Dynamics) built OV1 consisted of a X-258 (Altair-2) solid rocket motor and an hydrogen-peroxide attitude control system with 12 nozzles inherited from the Scout rocket. The attitude control system performed separation from the Atlas, oriented the payload stack and provided stabilization, when the solid motor injected the satellite into orbit.

In fact, only the first two missions flew piggy-back on ICBM launches, as it became apparent, that the satellites mostly hat orbital needs, that could not be satisfied on suborbital piggy-back launches. Therefore a new dual launch enclosure for two ARS was designed to fit in the place of the reentry vehicle. This allowed dual launches with each satellite possessing its own individual upper stage. As the side mount position of the Atlas-D was still available, these launches could also feature an secondary suborbital experiments pod or even a third side-mounted ARS dispenser.

This combination was replaced by the Atlas-F OV1 combination, which provided more payload volume.

Version Stage 1 Stage 2
Atlas-D OV1 Atlas-D OV1 / X-258 (Altair-2)
Performance (kg) LEO LPEO SSO GTO GEO MolO IP
Atlas-D OV1 (each OV1-PM) - 141 - - - -
Nr  TNr    Vehicle                  Serial   Conf    Date          LS             Payload

236   1    Atlas-D OV1              172D     1S      21.01.1965 F  Va 576B3       OV1 1 / ABRES MTV-1 *
251   2    Atlas-D OV1              68D      1S      28.05.1965 F  Va ABRES-B3    OV1 3 / Mk.3 *
266   3    Atlas-D OV1              34D      2TP     05.10.1965    Va ABRES-B3    OV1 2 / OV1-Dummy * / SSP 29 *
280   4    Atlas-D OV1 (2×)         72D      2TP     30.03.1966    Va ABRES-B3    OV1 4 / OV1 5 (BORE) / SSP 28 *
298   5    Atlas-D OV1 (2×)         58D      2TP     14.07.1966 P  Va ABRES-B3    OV1 7 / PASCOMSAT (OV1 8) / NC20.189 *
316   6    Atlas-D OV1 (2×)         89D      2T      11.12.1966    Va ABRES-B3    OV1 9 / OV1 10
338   7    Atlas-D OV1 (3×)         92D      2T1S    27.07.1967 P  Va ABRES-B3    OV1 11 / OV1 12 (FARO) / OV1 86


1S    = 1 side mounted OV1, 1 top mounted reentry vehicle
2T    = 2 top mounted OV1
2TP   = 2 top mounted OV1, 1 side mounted suborbital pod
2T1S  = 2 top mounted OV1, 1 side mounted OV1


1: separation mechanism failed to release the satellite from the launch vehicle
2: Atlas exploded after 2 minutes of flight
5: OV1 7 payload door jammed, solid rocket motor failed
7: OV1 11 failed to separate from the launch vehicle

Launch sites:

Va  = Vandenberg AFB, California, USA USA