Author Topic: Agena upper stage  (Read 20302 times)

Offline Chris Bergin

Re: Agena upper stage
« Reply #40 on: 07/19/2011 02:02 AM »
They had something on the A model. That's what fired during the Discoverer Zero failure in early 1959.

By the way, I've got a couple of Agena videos. Unfortunately, they are way too big to post here. Dunno if Chris has a way of allowing for big posts. (One is 20+ megs and the other is around 50.)

I think 20mb is as much as anyone's managed to "attach". And the uploader for big videos only creates a link which L2 members can play. I'd allow it if I could but that's the way Mark set it up and I'm useless at programming :(

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10992
  • Liked: 2459
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Agena upper stage
« Reply #41 on: 07/19/2011 02:42 PM »
I don't know how to post stuff to YouTube (yeah, yeah, I know, still living in 2005). But I'll figure it out and try to do that.

The videos are pixelated, but lengthy (20+ minutes) and produced by Lockheed for two Agena anniversaries. There are some interesting aspects to them, including color footage, believe it or not, of the Discoverer Zero failure, complete with smoke emerging from the interstage and pad rats running away very very fast.

Offline hoku

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 186
  • Liked: 4
  • Likes Given: 3
Re: Agena upper stage
« Reply #42 on: 07/19/2011 04:31 PM »
By the way, I've got a couple of Agena videos. Unfortunately, they are way too big to post here. Dunno if Chris has a way of allowing for big posts. (One is 20+ megs and the other is around 50.)

Upload to YouTube and post links? :)

Another possibility to share larger video files would be dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/ - up to 2GB of storage space are free. Then someone else on the forum could upload the video to youtube...

Offline Jim Davis

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 495
  • Liked: 78
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Agena upper stage
« Reply #43 on: 07/19/2011 05:32 PM »
...R.C. Hall's "Disapproved for public release" history paper on "The Agena Satellite" : http://www.nro.gov/foia/declass/WS117L_Records/115.PDF

The above has a footnote:

"A Lockheed proposal to develop an Agena "C" made in early
1961, which involved major changes in propellants, tank design, and a
modified Bell rocket engne, was turned down by the Air Force. See
Lockheed Secret Report 134SC4/48266, Proposal: Design and Development of Agena C, 21 June 1961."

Has this report been declassified? Is it available as a pdf?

Does anyone have further information on this Agena C?

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10992
  • Liked: 2459
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Agena upper stage
« Reply #44 on: 07/19/2011 06:09 PM »
I have not seen an Agena C report. There is some evidence that by the mid-1960s (after the report you reference) the USAF got annoyed with Lockheed over proposing numerous Agena upgrades. This may have coincided with a string of dumb failures--it's not a good idea to propose changes when your existing product is starting to fail due to quality control problems. It looks like you're not minding the store.

I think it's possible to cover Agena development and the moderate evolution it experienced in great detail up until 1972 or so. After that we have virtually no records. There was also apparently an Agena E proposal around 1966-1967 or so, probably abandoned because of the SCS developed for the HEXAGON spysat. And if you look earlier in the thread you should be able to find some stuff I scanned on the Agena tug variants that were proposed for the shuttle in the early 1970s.

Offline hoku

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 186
  • Liked: 4
  • Likes Given: 3
Re: Agena upper stage
« Reply #45 on: 08/09/2011 06:26 PM »
They had something on the A model. That's what fired during the Discoverer Zero failure in early 1959.
...

"Reflections of Minoru Sam Araki" (attached PDF, starting on page 55) has a few nice insights into the early days of the Agena project from an engineer's perspective. On Discoverer Zero he comments:

Our first launch was the infamous Discovererís Zero, which aborted on the pad. Itís burning in my memory; Iíll never lose that event as long as I live.
When we ran out of contacts on the D-timer to create a sequence of events for the ascent trajectory, we doubled up. We used the backside of the contact of the micro-switches, and we set up 32 contacts. Doubling up events was a big mistake. When we were ground testing we wanted to run a hydraulic test on the Agena engine, and we forgot that the ullage rocket was on the same contact switch. Ullage rockets were used to make sure propellant settled at the bottom before ignition.
We were just getting through fueling for the first launch, and we tested the hydraulicsóturned the hydraulics on, and we fired the ullage rocket on the stand. When the ullage rocket fired, it burned the wire that triggered the timer start. The timer started, fired the pin-pullers for the separation rocket, and the ullage rocket kept on burning. Everyone just ran for cover. It was terrible. Fortunately, the ullage rocket burned another wire to shut down the timer, which is how we survived the whole thing. That was our first launch attempt.


This is somewhat reminiscent of the (NASA's) "WIRE mishap" (a design flaw which unfortunately no one caught during ground-testing of that particular satellite)
« Last Edit: 08/09/2011 06:33 PM by hoku »

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10992
  • Liked: 2459
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Agena upper stage
« Reply #46 on: 08/10/2011 05:08 PM »
Frank Buzard described this event as a "sneak circuit" as opposed to a short circuit. The difference, he explained, was that while the system went wrong, that specific circuit was not a failure, it did what it was supposed to do, but it was not supposed to do it at that specific time.

The lesson of that was that you need to go through all of the circuitry for all of the systems end-to-end to figure out what will happen in each case. It's a form of systems engineering.

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10992
  • Liked: 2459
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Agena upper stage
« Reply #47 on: 11/28/2011 04:20 PM »
This is pretty obscure.

I just scanned this small collection of some documents on probably the most unusual launch during the CORONA program. This was CORONA 99 (mission number 99) which was not a reconnaissance mission and not even a classified mission. It was a collection of various scientific instruments for the Air Force. Apparently because they needed a Thor Agena going to polar orbit, they simply had the CORONA program office handle this one for them. It never made it to orbit. This would have been a footnote in military space history if it had flown, but it never even made it that far.

One of the documents features an image of the final spacecraft and you can see that they jammed all kinds of stuff on the front end of the Agena. It was a real Frankensat. Not pretty.

Offline kevin-rf

  • Elite Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8526
  • Overlooking the path Mary's little Lamb took..
  • Liked: 1028
  • Likes Given: 235
Re: Agena upper stage
« Reply #48 on: 11/28/2011 05:29 PM »
This is pretty obscure.

I just scanned this small collection of some documents on probably the most unusual launch during the CORONA program. This was CORONA 99 (mission number 99) which was not a reconnaissance mission and not even a classified mission. It was a collection of various scientific instruments for the Air Force. Apparently because they needed a Thor Agena going to polar orbit, they simply had the CORONA program office handle this one for them. It never made it to orbit. This would have been a footnote in military space history if it had flown, but it never even made it that far.

One of the documents features an image of the final spacecraft and you can see that they jammed all kinds of stuff on the front end of the Agena. It was a real Frankensat. Not pretty.

Is this the Corona you had hinted about in past threads?
If you're happy and you know it,
It's your med's!

Offline Art LeBrun

  • Photo freak
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2135
  • Orange, California
  • Liked: 16
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Agena upper stage
« Reply #49 on: 11/28/2011 06:08 PM »
Wayne Eleazer included Corona 99 in his Space Review article 1-31-2011 about the "Oops" factor in missile failures.
1958 launch vehicle highlights: Vanguard TV-4 and Atlas 12B

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10992
  • Liked: 2459
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Agena upper stage
« Reply #50 on: 11/28/2011 06:20 PM »
Is this the Corona you had hinted about in past threads?

I cannot remember. Possibly.

It was a weird vehicle, both in terms of construction and from a bureaucratic perspective.

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10992
  • Liked: 2459
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Agena upper stage
« Reply #51 on: 11/28/2011 06:20 PM »
Wayne Eleazer included Corona 99 in his Space Review article 1-31-2011 about the "Oops" factor in missile failures.


Eleazer's stuff is always worth reading.

Offline gwiz

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 441
  • Cornwall
  • Liked: 57
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Agena upper stage
« Reply #52 on: 11/29/2011 09:35 AM »
This is pretty obscure.
I don't suppose you've found any similar detail on CORONA 54, which was a similar scientific payload?

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10992
  • Liked: 2459
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Agena upper stage
« Reply #53 on: 11/29/2011 02:54 PM »
I don't suppose you've found any similar detail on CORONA 54, which was a similar scientific payload?

Remind me what that one was again? I have forgotten (and no, I don't have any info about it).

Offline gwiz

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 441
  • Cornwall
  • Liked: 57
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Agena upper stage
« Reply #54 on: 11/29/2011 04:49 PM »
I don't suppose you've found any similar detail on CORONA 54, which was a similar scientific payload?

Remind me what that one was again? I have forgotten (and no, I don't have any info about it).
It was instrumented to measure the artificial radiation belt produced by the Starfish high-altitude nuclear test.  Must have had a smaller payload than C-99 as it was intended for a higher orbit.  All I've seen is a photo of the Agena aft rack with an array of instruments.

Offline Blackstar

  • Veteran
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10992
  • Liked: 2459
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Agena upper stage
« Reply #55 on: 11/29/2011 05:51 PM »
I don't suppose you've found any similar detail on CORONA 54, which was a similar scientific payload?

Remind me what that one was again? I have forgotten (and no, I don't have any info about it).
It was instrumented to measure the artificial radiation belt produced by the Starfish high-altitude nuclear test.  Must have had a smaller payload than C-99 as it was intended for a higher orbit.  All I've seen is a photo of the Agena aft rack with an array of instruments.

JCM reminded me that it was a Starad mission. My gut instinct is that it was simpler than CORONA 99 because just about anything would be simpler than CORONA 99. They stuck 21 different experiments on that vehicle. But whatever was on the earlier mission must have included something at the front of the Agena too, not just on the aft rack.

Tags: