Author Topic: Pioneer Venus Orbiter Launch 1978-05-20 NASA  (Read 487 times)

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Pioneer Venus Orbiter Launch 1978-05-20 NASA
« on: 11/12/2017 09:12 PM »
Atlas-Centaur AC-50 Umbilical Closeups

Jeff Quitney
Published on Nov 12, 2017

Multiple super slow-motion views of the launch of the Pioneer Venus Orbiter (Pioneer 12) atop an Atlas-Centaur launch vehicle (AC-50) on May 20, 1978. The spacecraft was inserted into orbit around Venus on December 4, 1978. One wide view, then umbilical closeups. Silent.

The Pioneer Venus Orbiter, also known as Pioneer Venus 1 or Pioneer 12, was a mission to Venus conducted as part of the Pioneer Venus project. Launched in May 1978 atop an Atlas-Centaur rocket, the spacecraft was inserted into an elliptical orbit around Venus on December 4, 1978. It returned data on Venus until October 1992.

The Pioneer Venus Orbiter was launched by an Atlas SLV-3D Centaur-D1AR rocket, which flew from Launch Complex 36A at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The launch occurred at 13:13:00 on May 20, 1978, and deployed the Orbiter into heliocentric orbit for its coast to Venus. Venus orbit insertion occurred on December 4, 1978.

Manufactured by Hughes Aircraft Company, the Pioneer Venus Orbiter was based on the HS-507 bus. The spacecraft was a flat cylinder, 2.5 meters (8.2 ft) in diameter and 1.2 meters (3.9 ft) long. All instruments and spacecraft subsystems were mounted on the forward end of the cylinder, except the magnetometer, which was at the end of a 4.7 meters (15 ft) boom. A solar array extended around the circumference of the cylinder. A 1.09 meters (3 ft 7 in) despun dish antenna provided S and X band communication with Earth. A Star-24 solid rocket motor was integrated into the spacecraft to provide the thrust to enter orbit around Venus.

From Venus orbit insertion to July 1980, periapsis was held between 142 and 253 kilometres (88 and 157 mi) (at 17 degrees north latitude) to facilitate radar and ionospheric measurements. The spacecraft was in a 24-hour orbit with an apoapsis of 66,900 kilometers (41,600 mi). Thereafter, the periapsis was allowed to rise to a maximum of 2,290 kilometers (1,420 mi) and then fall, to conserve fuel.

In 1991, the Radar Mapper was reactivated to investigate previously inaccessible southern portions of the planet, in conjunction with the recently arrived Magellan spacecraft. In May 1992, Pioneer Venus began the final phase of its mission, in which the periapsis was held between 150 and 250 kilometers (93 and 155 mi), until the spacecraft's propellant was exhausted, after which the orbit decayed naturally. The spacecraft continued to return data until 8 October 1992, with the last signals being received at 19:22 UTC. The Pioneer Venus Orbiter disintegrated upon entering the atmosphere of Venus on October 22, 1992...

The Pioneer mission to Venus comprised two components, launched separately. Pioneer Venus 1 or Pioneer Venus Orbiter was launched in 1978 and studied the planet for more than a decade after orbital insertion in 1978. Pioneer Venus 2 or Pioneer Venus Multiprobe sent four small probes into the Venusian atmosphere.


Originally a public domain film slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and one-pass brightness-contrast-color correction & mild video noise reduction applied.

Tony De La Rosa