September 9, 1959

INTERCONTINENTAL ‘ATLAS’: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, 9 – The first intercontinental «Atlas D» ballistic missile was launched today, putting the United States in a position to attack almost any part of the earth from its military bases in friendly countries. The launch was made by 29 men and officers of the US Air Force’s 576th Strategic Missile Squadron. So far, 30 Atlas missiles have been launched within the framework of this program. Later it was announced that the missile had been programmed to travel only half of its full potential range. Wing Commander Thomas Power, leader of the air command, described today’s launch as an «historic event,» as it was the first time a missile of this type had been launched by the military as part of a regular armed forces exercise. He said the launch added new impetus to the ability of the US to deter a war. «The delivery of the Atlas and its successful launch shows that it can now be used to strike a target 6,300 miles away.» The missile is 85 feet long and can reach speeds of 15,000 miles per hour at an altitude of over 500 miles. Preparations for the launch took 27 months.