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.
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.
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).
Atlas-Agena Flights(Failures) with Raw Success Rate Running Totals Cape VAFB------------------------------1960 2(1) 0.50 1(1) 0.00 1961 4(3) 0.25 7(5) 0.291962 9(5) 0.44 15(6) 0.601963 10(5) 0.50 22(7) 0.681964 16(6) 0.63 32(8) 0.751965 20(7) 0.65 42(9) 0.791966 30(8) 0.73 57(10) 0.821967 36(9) 0.75 60(10) 0.83...1978 48(10) 0.79 61(10) 0.84------------------------------Total 109(20) 0.82
By my count, the Cape at no time after the first few months had a better Atlas-Agena launch record than Vandenberg/Point Arguello.
Quote from: edkyle99 on 10/04/2022 07:05 pmBy my count, the Cape at no time after the first few months had a better Atlas-Agena launch record than Vandenberg/Point Arguello. Broken down more summarily:10 Atlas failures (4 CCAS, 6 VAFB)7 Agena failures (4 CCAS, 3 VAFB)2 failures caused by ground support equipment (2 VAFB)1 failure caused by the payload shroud (1 CCAS)To be entirely fair the document I posted was from early 1962 at which point VAFB had more failures (4 including an on-pad explosion) against 3 CCAS failures. Taken in the context of that time CCAS would have been seen as better especially because those 3 failures were due entirely to Agena problems--right after that Ranger 3 failed due to an Atlas guidance system malfunction. Taken as a whole and to the end of the program in 1978 it evens to 10 failures from each launch site.It should be noted that VAFB had many more failures that occurred in the first two minutes of launch, including a few low altitude explosions. These malfunctions would be fairly preventable with proper prelaunch checks whereas failures like a rocket stage not restarting in orbit are harder to prevent from happening and the evidence does indicate that VAFB did not have as good facilities for prelaunch testing and checkouts of LVs.
Nov 19, 2022Mariner 4 would https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/Themes/nsf2019/images/bbc/quote.gifbe the first successful deep space spacecraft to fly by another planet and take a close-up image of the surface. The data rates were so low that it would take 8 hours to downlink the 200x200 images to Earth before the computers could start processing the image and printing them out. Engineers who had been working on the camera system famously short-circuited the process and began assembling their own image using strips of telemetry printout and coloring them with pastels bought from a local art store.