Image of the Air Force wings with the museum name underneath

Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week
FREE Admission & Parking

Rocketdyne LR79

The LR79 rocket engine was a reliable workhorse for U.S. Air Force space and missile launches between 1958 and 1980. Variants of this liquid-fueled engine powered Jupiter and Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBMs), Juno II satellite boosters, and Saturn I and IB rockets used in the Apollo, Skylab, and Apollo-Soyuz programs. The LR79 was also known by its civilian designation S-3/S-3D.

Rocketdyne developed the engine in 1955-56 for the U.S. Army. In 1956, Jupiter became an important Air Force missile when the USAF gained responsibility for all ballistic missiles with ranges of more than 200 miles. An LR79 engine powered a Jupiter on the first successful American IRBM test flight on May 3, 1957. In 1959, a Jupiter rocket took two monkeys named Able and Baker on a 16-minute sub-orbital ride to an altitude of 300 miles, a prelude to human spaceflight.

150,000–205,000 lbs. (depending on model)

Weight: 1,417–2,003 lbs. (depending on model)
Turbopump speed: 3,950–6,717 rpm (depending on model)
Propellants: RP-1 (kerosene) and liquid oxygen
Propellant flow: About 3,400 gallons liquid oxygen and 2,100 gallons kerosene per minute (depending on model)

Click here to return to the Space Gallery.

Find Out More
Related Fact Sheets
Chrysler SM-78/PGM-19A Jupiter
Douglas SM-75/PGM-17A Thor