Author Topic: Minuteman/Minotaur Failures  (Read 4348 times)

Offline edkyle99

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Minuteman/Minotaur Failures
« on: 08/01/2022 10:44 pm »
The recent Minotaur 2+ failure sent me down a rabbit hole, looking for the history of Minuteman failures over the years.  Rabbit hole indeed!  The recent David Stumpf book has brought many previously unknown (to me anyway) failures of Minuteman missiles during both R&D and operational testing since the first Minuteman 1A launch in 1961.  Stumpf appears to have accessed some previously classified materials for his report, but unfortunately his book does not present a complete listing of launches or of failures.   He focuses on the early days of Minuteman 1A/1B and Minuteman 2 with some Minutemen 3 R&D included, but that leaves many decades TBD.  He was thwarted by the fact that much of Minuteman 3 remains classified, for obvious reasons.

So, where previously we knew of around 55 Minuteman and Minotaur failures via. Jonathan McDowell and/or Encyclopedia Astronautica, etc., now it is possible to list 74 or 75 failures.  In the attached pdf file, I've listed every failure I could find in these references and highlighted in yellow where differences appear.  I suspect there are many more, yet unknown!

FILE UPDATED 2022 Aug 02

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 08/02/2022 05:03 pm by edkyle99 »

Offline Redclaws

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Re: Minuteman/Minotaur Failures
« Reply #1 on: 08/01/2022 10:57 pm »
The recent Minotaur 2+ failure sent me down a rabbit hole, looking for the history of Minuteman failures over the years.  Rabbit hole indeed!  The recent David Stumpf book has brought many previously unknown (to me anyway) failures of Minuteman missiles during both R&D and operational testing since the first Minuteman 1A launch in 1961.  Stumpf appears to have accessed some previously classified materials for his report, but unfortunately his book does not present a complete listing of launches or of failures.   He focuses on the early days of Minuteman 1A/1B and Minuteman 2 with some Minutemen 3 R&D included, but that leaves many decades TBD.  He was thwarted by the fact that much of Minuteman 3 remains classified, for obvious reasons.

So, where previously we knew of around 54 Minuteman and Minotaur failures via. Jonathan McDowell and/or Encyclopedia Astronautica, etc., now it is possible to list 73 or 74 failures.  In the attached pdf file, I've listed every failure I could find in these references and highlighted in yellow where differences appear.  I suspect there are many more, yet unknown!

 - Ed Kyle

Ed,

Can you give any sense of how many launches there were relative to known failures?

Offline russianhalo117

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Re: Minuteman/Minotaur Failures
« Reply #2 on: 08/01/2022 11:49 pm »
All flights to date with minuteman family of motor stages (fairly complete minus the above declassified failures):
https://space.skyrocket.de/doc_lau_fam/minuteman.htm
https://space.skyrocket.de/doc_lau_fam/m-56.htm
https://space.skyrocket.de/doc_lau_fam/sr19.htm

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Minuteman/Minotaur Failures
« Reply #3 on: 08/02/2022 01:59 am »
Ed,

Can you give any sense of how many launches there were relative to known failures?
I'm going to still be updating this attached list (right now the numbers don't really add up), but I'll post it now to give an overall sense of the numbers. 

FILE UPDATED August 2, 2022

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 08/02/2022 05:01 pm by edkyle99 »

Offline spacenut

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Re: Minuteman/Minotaur Failures
« Reply #4 on: 08/02/2022 02:26 am »
All Minutemen and Monitor rockets were/are solids aren't they? 

Are any segmented like the Shuttle/SLS boosters? 

Also, didn't they make about 1,000 of each type, like Minuteman I, II, and III's?  An older decommissioned type became the Monitor booster, which type?

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Minuteman/Minotaur Failures
« Reply #5 on: 08/02/2022 02:40 am »
All Minutemen and Monitor rockets were/are solids aren't they? 

Are any segmented like the Shuttle/SLS boosters? 

Also, didn't they make about 1,000 of each type, like Minuteman I, II, and III's?  An older decommissioned type became the Monitor booster, which type?
Minuteman 1A, 1B, and 2 were three-stage non-segmented (monolithic) solids that used blow-out thrust termination ports on the third stage to reach targeted velocity.  Minuteman 3 used a bigger solid third stage and added a post-boost vehicle (fourth) stage (named PSRE for Propulsion System Rocket Engine) that could carry MIRVs.  There were 1,000 Minuteman missiles on duty by mid-1967.  Today 400 Minuteman 3 missiles remain deployed.  By type the peak deployments were Minuteman 1A:  150, Minuteman 1B:  650,  Minuteman 2:  500, Minuteman 3:  550.  Not all at the same time of course.  I figure an additional 40-50% or so were built beyond the number deployed.  The Minuteman 3 missiles have been on duty since 1975 or so!

Minotaur 1, the orbital rocket, uses Minuteman first and second stages topped by Pegasus type upper stages.  Minotaur 2, used for suborbital tests, was essentially a Minuteman 2 with no RV.  Minotaur 2+, also used for suborbital tests, seems to be essentially a Minuteman 3 with no PBV.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 08/02/2022 03:08 am by edkyle99 »

Offline spacenut

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Re: Minuteman/Minotaur Failures
« Reply #6 on: 08/02/2022 02:05 pm »
Thanks. 

We must be more dependent on submarine launched missiles today.  Are they similar to Minutemen or aren't they wider and shorter? 

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Minuteman/Minotaur Failures
« Reply #7 on: 08/02/2022 02:39 pm »
Thanks. 

We must be more dependent on submarine launched missiles today.  Are they similar to Minutemen or aren't they wider and shorter? 
There will only be 280 Trident 2-D5 missiles on duty in 14 Ohio subs by next year to meet treaty requirements.  Since two subs are usually in overhaul, only 240 missiles are really available.  Trident 2-D5 is 13.58 meters tall and 2.11 meters diameter, weighs 59 tonnes (metric tons), and has a 2.7 tonne throw weight.  Minuteman 3 is 18.3 x 1.68 meters, 36 tonnes GLOW, and 1.15 tonnes throw weight.  Both use three solid stages and a liquid post-boost vehicle stage.

By the way, I've updated my failure summary files upthread.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 08/02/2022 05:32 pm by edkyle99 »

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Minuteman/Minotaur Failures
« Reply #8 on: 08/08/2022 12:00 am »
The attached GAO report on Minuteman from 1990 includes two Appendices (3 and 4) that give the total number of Minuteman 2 and 3 launches and successes by year from 1980 to 1989.  The problem is that the numbers don't agree with the JCM/Stumpf lists I posted above.  Here is a side-by-side comparison.  Big discrepancies, as you can see.
               
           Launches(Failures)
     
        Minuteman 2     Minuteman 3
        GAO    JCM/     GAO    JCM/
              Stumpf          Stumpf
-----------------------------------------
1980    1(0)   1(0)     8(1)   9(0)
1981                    8(0)   8(0)
1982    3(1)   3(0)     6(2)   6(0)
1983    2(0)   2(0)     7(2)   7(1)
1984    1(0)   1(0)     7(1)   7(0)
1985                    6(3)   6(1)
1986                    7(1)   7(1)
1987    4(2)   3(1)     7(3)   8(2)
1988                    5(0)   5(0)
1989                    7(0)   7(0)
-----------------------------------------
TOTAL  11(3)  10(1)   68(13)  70(5)

 - Ed Kyle 
« Last Edit: 08/08/2022 12:02 am by edkyle99 »

Offline Vahe231991

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Re: Minuteman/Minotaur Failures
« Reply #9 on: 09/16/2023 02:36 am »
So far, there have been three Minuteman III launches this year, all of them being successes.

Offline jcm

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Re: Minuteman/Minotaur Failures
« Reply #10 on: 10/12/2023 04:51 am »
The attached GAO report on Minuteman from 1990 includes two Appendices (3 and 4) that give the total number of Minuteman 2 and 3 launches and successes by year from 1980 to 1989.  The problem is that the numbers don't agree with the JCM/Stumpf lists I posted above.  Here is a side-by-side comparison.  Big discrepancies, as you can see.
               
           Launches(Failures)
     
        Minuteman 2     Minuteman 3
        GAO    JCM/     GAO    JCM/
              Stumpf          Stumpf
-----------------------------------------
1980    1(0)   1(0)     8(1)   9(0)
1981                    8(0)   8(0)
1982    3(1)   3(0)     6(2)   6(0)
1983    2(0)   2(0)     7(2)   7(1)
1984    1(0)   1(0)     7(1)   7(0)
1985                    6(3)   6(1)
1986                    7(1)   7(1)
1987    4(2)   3(1)     7(3)   8(2)
1988                    5(0)   5(0)
1989                    7(0)   7(0)
-----------------------------------------
TOTAL  11(3)  10(1)   68(13)  70(5)

 - Ed Kyle 

I only just saw this, Ed...
For the number of launches, I am confident in my numbers. There are 2 discrepancies:
GAO is missing a Min3 in 1980 and has swapped a Min 3 to a Min 2 in 1987. I think they are just wrong.
For the failures, I note that they are always in the sense that GAO has more failures. They may well be correct here in that
late-stage failures may not be marked as such in my lists if they were not acknowledged.  Also, they may be counting
reentry vehicle failures and not just launch vehicle failures?
-----------------------------

Jonathan McDowell
http://planet4589.org

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Re: Minuteman/Minotaur Failures
« Reply #11 on: 10/12/2023 05:34 pm »
The recent Minotaur 2+ failure sent me down a rabbit hole, looking for the history of Minuteman failures over the

That happened in July 2022. Did we ever get an official explanation for that failure?


Offline edkyle99

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Re: Minuteman/Minotaur Failures
« Reply #12 on: 10/13/2023 01:51 am »
The recent Minotaur 2+ failure sent me down a rabbit hole, looking for the history of Minuteman failures over the
That happened in July 2022. Did we ever get an official explanation for that failure?
Nothing that I've seen.  Since the failed flight was testing the new Mk21A RV for the new ICBM project, it would seem an important test to repeat soon.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 10/13/2023 01:58 am by edkyle99 »

 

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