The spectacular Soviet achievement of photographing the far-side of the Moon in October 1959 prompted NASA to revise its planning. The Air Force was developing the Agena B as a variant of an upper stage which could restart its engine in space. The payload projection for low Earth orbit of an Atlas-Agena B exceeded that projected for the two-stage Atlas-Vega, and almost matched that of the three-stage variant. On 7 November 1959 NASA decided that all satellites scheduled to use the Atlas-Vega should be transferred to the Atlas-Agena B; the Vega stage would be used only for lunar probes. But on 11 December it was decided that the lunar probes would switch too, and the Vega was cancelled. The Atlas-Agena B was seen as the interim launch vehicle for deep-space probes, pending the introduction of the Atlas-Centaur.
KeywordsLunar Surface Solar Panel Launch Vehicle Deep Space System Division
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