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Atlas The Ultimate Weapon ISBN 9781894959186
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|Atlas: The Ultimate Weapon |
by Chuck Walker with Joel Powell
Listen to The Space Show interview with Chuck.
Atlas - The Ultimate Weapon is the story of the Atlas rocket, Americas first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), and workhorse of the civil and military space programs since the late 1950s.
The book is written by Chuck Walker, a participant in the Atlas program starting in 1953 with the prime contractor, Convair-Astronautics. Mr. Walker began his career with Convair as a test engineer for Atlas, later moving to the Test Planning Group and then became manager of Program Control for Atlas. In his role of establishing the schedules of all work done at Convair-Astronautics, Mr. Walker came to know personally many of the people who were responsible for running the Atlas program. It was these people that Mr. Walker approached to tell the story of the Atlas program in their own words.
The book is divided into two parts. The first part covers the military career of Atlas from conception through to the costly development and deployment of the weapon system at bases scattered throughout the United States. Chapters 1 through 3 cover the genesis of the program through work on the MX-774 prototype missile. Chapters 4 through 12 discuss the Atlas design, its production and test facilities, and development testing to the point of Initial Operational Capability of the Atlas ICBM. Chapters 13 through 15 describe the activation of the initial Strategic Air Command squadrons, the training facilities that supported them, and the subsequent deactivation of the Atlas squadrons in 1965 when the Minuteman missile took over the nuclear deterent role from Atlas.
The second part of the book relates to the role of Atlas in Americas space programs from the late 1950s to the present day. Chapters 17 and 18 describe the high-performance Centaur upper stage used for communication satellite and space probe launches, as well as the versatile Agena stage. The Project Mercury manned space flights with Atlas are also covered in detail. Part Two closes with a look back on the Atlas program from the personal perspective of some of the key participants. The appendices list the flight history of the Atlas and also detail key program events and milestones. Biographies of prominent Atlas managers and the contributors to this book are also included. The book is profusely llustrated with over 100 black-and-white photographs from the Convair archives, many of which have never been published before, and there is also a section of spectacular color photographs. The original version of Atlas will be retired by the time this book is released, but parts of the Atlas legacy lives on in the form of the Centaur upper stage (and even its famous name) in the Atlas V replacement vehicle built by the Lockheed Martin Corporation.
(16 color pages)
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