Pioneer P-3

Launch Time
Thu Nov 26, 1959 07:26 UTC

Maiden flight of Atlas-Able. Payload fairing broke up at T+45 seconds, leading to loss of the upper stages and payload. Atlas performed normally.


Atlas-D Able
Image Credit: USAF or NASA
General Dynamics
Status: Retired
Liftoff Thrust: 1,880 kN
Stages: 3
Strap-ons: 0
Rocket Height: 35.0 m

Mission Details

Pioneer P-3

Pioneer P-3 (also known as Atlas-Able 4 or Pioneer X) was intended to be a lunar orbiter probe, but the mission failed shortly after launch. The objectives were to place a highly instrumented probe in lunar orbit, to investigate the environment between the Earth and Moon, and to develop technology for controlling and maneuvering spacecraft from Earth. It was equipped to take images of the lunar surface with a television-like system, estimate the Moon's mass and topography of the poles, record the distribution and velocity of micrometeorites, and study radiation, magnetic fields, and low-frequency electromagnetic waves in space.

Payloads: 1
Total Mass: 168.0 kg
Trans Lunar Injection


LC-14, Cape Canaveral SFS, Florida, USA



23rd orbital launch attempt


1st mission
1st mission of 1959
1st failed mission