A NASA Project Mercury spacecraft was test launched at 11:15 AM EST on April 25, 1961 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in a test designed to qualify the Mercury Spacecraft and all systems, which must function during orbit and reentry from orbit. The Mercury-Atlas vehicle was destroyed by Range Safety Officer about 40 seconds after liftoff. The spacecraft was recovered and appeared to be in good condition. Atlas was designed to launch payloads into low Earth orbit, geosynchronous transfer orbit or geosynchronous orbit. NASA first launched Atlas as a space launch vehicle in 1958. Project SCORE, the first communications satellite that transmitted President Eisenhower's pre-recorded Christmas speech around the world, was launched on an Atlas. For all three robotic lunar exploration programs, Atlas was used. Atlas/ Centaur vehicles launched both Mariner and Pioneer planetary probes. The current operational Atlas II family has a 100% mission success rating. For more information about Atlas, please see Chapter 2 in Roger Launius and Dennis Jenkins' book To Reach the High Frontier published by The University Press of Kentucky in 2002.