Author Topic: Original Peter Hunter Photo Collections  (Read 5219 times)

Offline RedTail48

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Re: Original Peter Hunter Photo Collections
« Reply #20 on: 08/08/2017 07:38 AM »
Sorry, looks like I mucked up my previous link to the Titan Flight List.


https://www.dropbox.com/sh/3xsz72w0ko3u944/AACKh7sctNK7RiRdjTwVHu__a?dl=0

Offline WallE

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Re: Original Peter Hunter Photo Collections
« Reply #21 on: 08/08/2017 11:16 AM »
I can see that list is pretty outdated and predates GAMBIT declassification. Here's a couple of additional details on failures.

B-5: A bad hold down relay allowed the missile to release before it was at 100% thrust, one of the pad umbilicals sent a signal cutting the engines off.

J-2: A hydraulic fitting popped loose due to liftoff-induced vibration, it was found to be the result of a manufacturing defect and other Titan Is were also found to have bad fittings.

V-4: This was essentially the same failure as Atlas 45F (stuck engine valve, it tipped over and exploded). I saw a video a long long time ago (I think early 2000s) but I haven't seen it since.

3B-35/GAMBIT 73: Agena pneumatic regulator failure

3B-43/GAMBIT 77: Stuck fuel valve prevented Agena engine start

Offline RedTail48

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Re: Original Peter Hunter Photo Collections
« Reply #22 on: 08/08/2017 11:23 AM »
Thanks for the Titan fails. I mentioned before I would hope to update all the Launch Listings with post-declass details and repost. Can't put a time on that.

Offline WallE

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Re: Original Peter Hunter Photo Collections
« Reply #23 on: 08/10/2017 12:42 PM »
It has been said that Mariner 2's booster suffered an uncontrolled roll shortly before BECO that nearly threatened the mission. This was attributed to a loose wire in the missile programmer pushed back into place by the centrifugal force of the roll.

The GD/A doc "Atlas Autopilot Difficulties" reveals that Atlas 179D's autopilot was a mess and required extensive repair work during prelaunch preparations ("A History of Project Ranger" mentions the awful Q/C and numerous repairs almost every Atlas-Agena vehicle required after delivery). Oddly, there is no mention anywhere of the incident during launch. It might be in the postflight evaluation report for 179D, but we don't have that.

What's even more strange is that 145D and 179D had the old electromechanical "round" autopilot instead of the transistorized "square" autopilot. I would have assumed all SLV Atlases delivered after early 1961 had the square autopilot. In any case, given the difficulties with 179D's autopilot, they were lucky a loose wire was the most that went wrong and Mariner 2 didn't end up swimming with the fishes like its predecessor.

Offline RIB

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Re: Original Peter Hunter Photo Collections
« Reply #24 on: 08/10/2017 02:21 PM »
any detailed info on the flight and failure of the GT-9  Atlas-Agena launch ?

Offline WallE

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Re: Original Peter Hunter Photo Collections
« Reply #25 on: 08/10/2017 03:06 PM »
any detailed info on the flight and failure of the GT-9  Atlas-Agena launch ?

It had a control failure shortly before BECO. One of the booster engines went hard over and the Atlas pinwheeled around and started heading back towards earth. The Atlas sustainer and verniers cut off around 300 seconds, followed by Agena separation. Telemetry from the Agena continued until 450 seconds and then stopped.

Since it was a cloudy day, tracking cameras at CCAS failed to record the incident, but cameras several miles down the beach showed the Atlas flipping over. Agena engine start after staging did not occur because the proper altitude and velocity had not been achieved, so the guidance system was blocked from issuing the start command to it. The Atlas sustainer section and Agena impacted in the ocean about 120 miles downrange. The control failure was found to be the result of a short in the Atlas programmer servoamplifier, suspected to be from either a pinched wire or something being frozen from LOX leakage.

By 1966, Q/C on Atlas vehicles had improved significantly compared to 4-5 years earlier due to the standardized Atlas SLV, however incidents like this and the Canyon failure mentioned earlier show that random component malfunctions could still occur and result in the loss of a mission.


Offline RIB

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Re: Original Peter Hunter Photo Collections
« Reply #26 on: 08/10/2017 06:31 PM »
any photos or video of the Atlas flipping over?

Offline WallE

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Re: Original Peter Hunter Photo Collections
« Reply #27 on: 08/10/2017 06:57 PM »
any photos or video of the Atlas flipping over?



This newsreel clip shows the tracking camera footage of the Atlas cartwheeling. You can also see the booster jettison take place. Also there's video on Youtube of the CBS live coverage of the launch. Best part? Where someone says "I don't know how the Range Safety Officer has permitted the flight to continue." From watching the CBS coverage, it seems there was a bit of "deer in the headlights" syndrome going on and nobody in the blockhouse knew exactly what was happening.

DTIC (Defense Technical Information Center) lists a failure investigation report for the launch but there's no download link. They list a whole bunch of Atlas flight reports, but half of them don't have a download. Also they're all East Coast launches, there's no reports for any West Coast flights except Atlas 303D (failed Nike-Zeus test in 1966, no download link).

Atlas 68E experienced an extremely similar failure 16 years later, although in that case a propulsion rather than an autopilot malfunction caused it to flip over and descent back towards earth. The Range Safety Officer blew it up that time though.
« Last Edit: 08/15/2017 09:10 PM by WallE »

Offline WallE

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Re: Original Peter Hunter Photo Collections
« Reply #28 on: 08/26/2017 11:01 PM »
There are several different accounts of what went wrong on Mariner 1, the most accurate-sounding explanation appears to come from the book "The U.S. Air Force In Space, 1945 to the Twenty-First Century".

At 93 seconds into launch, the rate beacon on the guidance system failed. The rate beacon was supposed to provide the ground guidance computer with information about the launch vehicle's velocity/trajectory which it would then use to make adjustments to the flight path, but if the beacon failed, erroneous guidance commands could be sent, so the guidance program included a hyphen which instructed the computer to ignore rate data if it lost its link on the beacon.

Problem was, the guidance program used on Atlas-Agena B vehicles at CCAS didn't have the hyphen in it since someone apparently forgot to add it in. There had not been a rate beacon failure in the four Atlas-Agena B launches from CCAS to date, so this glitch had been heretofore undiscovered. So on Mariner 1's launch, the rate beacon did fail, and as soon as discreet guidance commands were initiated at BECO, the loss of rate data caused the computer to start generating erroneous commands. With no hyphen in the guidance program, the computer had no way of knowing it was supposed to ignore the rate data due to the beacon malfunction and it so kept sending incorrect steering discreets. The Atlas yawed from left to right during sustainer phase and finally ended up pointing to the left and downward of the direction it was supposed to be flying in, and so the Range Safety officer sent the destruct command shortly before SECO, fearing that the Agena and spent Atlas would land in the crowded North Atlantic shipping lanes or some other populated location. Telemetry from Mariner 1 was lost for three seconds following vehicle destruction, then resumed and continued intermittently for another minute and a half. Presumably the probe remained secure inside its payload shroud until impact in the ocean.

Mariner program manager Jack James doubted that the booster was going to come down anywhere near a populated area and thought the Range Safety officer had been too trigger-happy.

The GE Mod III-G guidance system used on Atlas-Agenas (and its West Coast version the Mark II-A) was basically a Mod III-B (Atlas D ICBM guidance system) that had its vacuum tube electronics replaced with transistors, but this didn't work very well and caused multiple in-flight failures, so during 1963, it was completely redesigned to properly accommodate transistor electronics. A few months after Mariner 1, Ranger 5 experienced another rate beacon failure, but the guidance program had been corrected since then, so no difficulties happened.

As for Mariner 2, apparently the uncontrolled roll was caused by an electrical short in the vernier feedback transducer. The V2 engine went hard over at BECO and caused the booster to roll for almost an entire minute of flight. Eventually control was restored and the launch continued as normal. Improved fabrication of wiring harnesses and preflight testing was implemented afterwards.
« Last Edit: 08/27/2017 04:27 AM by WallE »

Offline Jim

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Re: Original Peter Hunter Photo Collections
« Reply #29 on: 08/27/2017 03:34 AM »

Problem was, the guidance program used on Atlas-Agena vehicles at CCAS

CCAS name was only used from 1994 to 2000.   At the time of Mariner 1, it was the Cape Canaveral Missile Test Annex (CCMTA)
« Last Edit: 08/27/2017 03:34 AM by Jim »

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