I Was Ejected from a Spaceship
Atlas 10-B Orbits the Earth
San Diego, California

Memoir by
Wilfred R. Franson
June 1999

The Atlas, up close and personal

Atlas ICBM launch, Convair Astronautics, Space Ferry

I was ejected from a spaceship — and I didn't know it was a spaceship at the time.

This brief encounter with international politics happened in 1958. I was working for Convair Astronautics, writing propulsion system maintenance manuals for the Atlas missile system, the intercontinental ballistic missles (ICBMs). One day I happened to pass an Atlas missile under construction and decided to look around and familiarize myself with the thrust chambers and how they were supplied with fuel and oxygen while gimballing to guide the missile.

I was taking notes and a high-level supervisor asked me to leave the missile, which I did immediately, having spent much of my life in high-security areas.

At the time I didn't think much about the incident, but later when Atlas 10-B was launched I learned that it was a very special vehicle, designed to go into orbit, carrying a message from President Eisenhower to the world. The Russians had put Sputnik up there, but we put up a missile as big as a railroad car.

I saw missile 10-B once briefly as it orbited; it was near sunset and I saw it shining in the sun. The radio broadcast programmed into it from President Eisenhower to the people of the world was:

This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space. My message is a simple one. Through this unique means I convey to you and to all mankind America's wish for peace on Earth and good will toward men everywhere.

Atlas missile 10-B circled the Earth about 500 times, 12,500,000 miles, for thirty-three days; re-entering the atmosphere near Midway Island in the Pacific, and burning up like a meteor January 21, 1959.


© 1999 Wilfred R. Franson

Aerospace at Troynovant
air and space travel and development

More by Wilfred R. Franson


Troynovant, or Renewing Troy:    New | Contents
  recurrent inspiration    200 Recent Updates

emergent layers of
untimely Reviews
& prismatic Essays


Essays A-L, M-Z: mining the prismatic veins of Knowledge
Follies: whimsical Ventures, shiny light-hearted Profundities
Illuminants: glances brightening to heat
Memoirs: Personal History, personally told
Postcards: flat-carded Scenes of Passage
Satires: a point or a quiver-full

Strata | Regions | Personae

Share this item —

Bookmark & Share

© 2001-2023 Franson Publications