For immediate release

February 10, 2015

BACKGROUNDER: Technology Park landmarks being removed


First flown in June, 1957, the Atlas long range rocket was the launch vehicle that carried United States Marine Corps Lt. Col. John Glenn into orbital flight on February 20, 1962, ten months after the world’s first manned orbital flight by Yuri Gagarin of the U.S.S.R., on April 12, 1961. It originated as a proposal by Convair in 1946 to develop a ballistic missile improving on the German V-2. The Convair Atlas rocket grew out of the need for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of delivering nuclear warheads with precision at great distances. The Atlas was developed as the United States’ first ICBM, becoming operational in September 1959. A total of 159 such ICBMs were deployed at the height of the program, before being withdrawn from service in 1965. As they were deactivated, they were refurbished as space launchers before standardised versions were built specifically for orbital applications. More than 500 Atlas rockets of all types had been launched by 1992, delivering the first successful probes to Mars, Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter.

This particular Atlas 5A had been on display in Technology Park since arriving from the United States Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, in 1973. It was originally manufactured by General Dynamics in San Diego, California, in 1956.

The Atlas rocket’s fuel tanks required constant pressurization because of its very thin outside skin. Made of 27 sections of stainless steel, most of these sections’ thickness is less than the average milk carton, with the thickest section being only 40 mm thick. Without constant positive pressure being maintained in the fuel tanks, the Atlas rocket would crumple upon itself, as was unfortunately the case of another Atlas rocket on display at the United States Air Force Museum in 1986.


The pump jack was made by Pacific Gear Works in 1950 and donated to the Museum in 1967 by Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. It has been used in Saskatchewan during the 1950s.

Pumps of this type were used in experimental heavy oil recovery techniques in the Lloydminster area of Saskatchewan, referred to at the time as "Huff and Puff" (now known as SAGD: steam-assisted gravity drainage) and Fire Flooding (now Toe to Heel Air Injection). It was one of the first landmarks to be installed in Technology Park after it was landscaped in 1968.

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