Friendship 7 LV

In 1955 Convair won the prime contract for Atlas ICBM.The liquid oxygen and kerosene vehicle was designed to carry a thermonuclear warhead over 7000 miles. The Atlas was unique in its “stage and half” design in which two of its main engines were shed to reduce weight after two minutes of flight, while the central sustainer continued to burn. In order to minimize sustainer tank weight (used also for booster engines), Convair employeed balloon construction. Flights of Atlas began on June 11, 1957, with the launch of Atlas A powered by booster alone. In November 1958, an Atlas B reached full design range, and the operational Atlas D was deployed in 1960.
Project Mercury was to orbit an American as quickly as possible, relying on proven technology and existing boosters. The operational Atlas D would orbit the manned craft with a minimum number of modifications.The most visible change was the addition of spaceraft adapter at the front of the missile. The most important internal change was the addition of an abort sensing system. On February 20, 1962, Atlas 109 D launched John Glenn aboard the Friendship 7 craft. Four succesful manned orbital flights followed.

Detail photos of some NW046 kit can be found on special page.