Author Topic: Mariner IV  (Read 6939 times)

Offline Jim

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Re: Mariner IV
« Reply #20 on: 09/22/2022 08:45 pm »

1.  Bit of a disadvantage there compared with the Soviet program which could reuse R-7 pads in just two days.

LV reliability was improving by 1964 but still potentially an issue and the standardized Atlas SLV core had not been adopted across the board yet; Mariner 3 and 4 were still using custom-built Atlas D vehicles tailored for the particular mission needs.

LC-13 was used for Vela in 1963-65 with the sole exception of Mariner 3 while LC-12 was used for NASA missions--Ranger, OGO, and Mariner as well as the FIRE Apollo heat shield tests but each of these required the pad to be reconfigured (also note that 15 months passed between Ranger 5 and 6 so LC-12 didn't get used at all during 1963). Plus of course Ranger used Agena B while Mariner used Agena D which necessitated further modifications.

1.  Not at all a disadvantage since there were three Atlas Agena pads.  R-7 didn't have as many pads

2.  Not really, spacecraft reliability was more of a concern

3.  Pads did not have to be modified between Agena B and Agena D missions

Offline WallE

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Re: Mariner IV
« Reply #21 on: 09/23/2022 01:35 am »
The drewexmachina link seemed to suggest there were differences between Agena B and D launches but they could be wrong. As for spacecraft reliability, it was the biggest concern but LV gremlins did still pop up from time to time, even though CCAS had a better record with Atlas-Agena than Vandenberg. After all, two GATVs were lost to booster malfunctions and this was after the standardized Atlas SLV was flying.

Also there were not three Atlas-Agena pads at the Cape in 1963-64, there were two (LC-12 and 13). LC-14 was in the process of being converted from Mercury launches to GATV during this time and then it was used exclusively for those until being retired from use at the end of the Gemini program.

Offline Jim

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Re: Mariner IV
« Reply #22 on: 09/23/2022 01:57 pm »

Also there were not three Atlas-Agena pads at the Cape in 1963-64, there were two (LC-12 and 13). LC-14 was in the process of being converted from Mercury launches to GATV during this time and then it was used exclusively for those until being retired from use at the end of the Gemini program.

LC-14 had supported Agena before Mercury.  Most of the infrastructure was still there, the reconversion didn't take much.  It was used exclusively for GATV, but didn't have to.
Still doesn't change the fact that Atlas Agena didn't have to rely on one pad and do a quick turn around and hence didn't have a "disadvantage"
« Last Edit: 09/23/2022 01:59 pm by Jim »

Offline WallE

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Re: Mariner IV
« Reply #23 on: 10/03/2022 04:24 pm »
(report is as of January '62)

I agree they seemed to have a worse record with West Coast Atlas-Agena and that was attributed in here to how VAFB lacked some of CCAS's checkout and diagnostic capabilities that had been set up for the Atlas R&D flights (as for example verifying autopilot functionality prior to launch).

As for the point about LC-14 yeah it had hosted those two MIDAS launches way back in 1960 using the prototype Agena A, and even before that the first Atlas-Able launch which a hypergol upper stage. I suppose the infrastructure for Agena such as the propellant tanks was still there though they'd have had to keep it maintained for over four years of non-use--the equipment would rust quickly in the salty coastal air if not kept cleaned and painted (LC-14's umbilical tower rusted fast after the pad's active use ended in 1967 and had to eventually be demolished for safety reasons).

This report also makes the interesting complaint that CCAS had "inadequate" storage facilities for the Agena's propellants.
« Last Edit: 10/03/2022 04:30 pm by WallE »

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