NW056 1/144 Thor Ablestar
The Thor missile program was initiated in December 1954, when
USAF headquarters issued requirement for a tactical missile
intended to travel a distance of between 1 150 and 2 300 miles.
Thor was undertaken as a high-risk program having the goal of
achieving flight within the shortest possible time. The Thor had
its first complete launch pad test in January 1957 and a
full-range flight test in September 1957.
The added Ablestar stage featured the first liquid-propellant restartable engine which could stop and start once or twice in space. By cutting off and restarting as much as 20 minutes after the launch sequence had ended, the Ablestar was able to correct its orbit, making it more circular or elliptical as the case might require.
The Army-developed Courier 1B, the world's first active repeater communications satellite, was launched by Thor Ablestar on October 4th, 1960. That launch marked the 100th flight by Thor. Courier 1B had aboard a receiver-recorder-transmitter system capable of recording 36 hours of message transmissions and reproducing them in 15 minutes as it passed over a ground station.