Thor-Agena was a series of orbital launch vehicles. The rockets used Thor first stages and Agena second stages. They are thus cousins of the more-famous Thor-Deltas, which founded the Delta rocket family. The first attempted launch of a Thor-Agena was in January 1959. The first successful launch was on February 28, 1959, launching Discoverer 1.


Among other uses, the clandestine Corona program used Thor-Agenas from June 1959 until January 1968 to launch US military reconnaissance satellites operated by the CIA. During this program, Thor-Agena launch vehicles were used in 145 launch attempts[1] now known to have been part of satellite surveillance programs.

Also, Alouette 1, Canada's first satellite, was launched on a Thor-Agena-B.


  • 16 launches between 21 Jan 1959 and 13 Sep 1960
  • The Discoverer 14 satellite used in the Corona spy satellite program was launched by a Thor-Agena-A. On 1960-08-19 usable photographic film from the satellite was recovered by a C-119 recovery aircraft. This was the first successful recovery of film from an orbiting satellite and the first mid-air recovery of an object returning from Earth orbit.[2]
  • First successful launch: Nov 12, 1960 with Discoverer 17
  • Last launch: May 15, 1966 with Nimbus 2
  • First launch: Jun 28, 1962
  • Last launch: Jan 17, 1968


  1. Day, Dwayne; Logsdon, John; Latell, Brian (1998). Eye in the Sky: The Story of the Corona Spy Satellites. Smithsonian Institution Press. pp. 236–245. OCLC 36783934.
  2. "Discoverer 14 - NSSDC ID: 1960-010A". NASA.

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