Author Topic: Centaur's first sprint gallop - 50th anniversary  (Read 1417 times)

Offline Galactic Penguin SST

Another spaceflight milestone almost lost in history has come today: the first ignition of a liquid hydrogen powered rocket engine in space. The second Atlas Centaur (AC-2; AC-1 failed during first stage flight) lifted off from SLC-36A at Cape Canaveral at 2:03 pm EST 50 years to this day (Nov. 27, 1963), and at just over 4 minutes into the flight the twin RL10A-3 engines ignited for a single 6 minutes 20 seconds burn to put the instrumented Centaur stage into a 547 x 1691 km x 30.4 degree orbit.

ULA press release: http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/pages/News.shtml#/162/
Atlas-Centaur test flights by Ed Kyle: http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/aclv3cb.html
Chinese spaceflight is a cosmic riddle wrapped in a galactic mystery inside an orbital enigma... - (not) Winston Churchill

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Centaur's first sprint gallop - 50th anniversary
« Reply #1 on: 11/27/2013 06:55 pm »
Another spaceflight milestone almost lost in history has come today: the first ignition of a liquid hydrogen powered rocket engine in space. The second Atlas Centaur (AC-2; AC-1 failed during first stage flight) lifted off from SLC-36A at Cape Canaveral at 2:03 pm EST 50 years to this day (Nov. 27, 1963), and at just over 4 minutes into the flight the twin RL10A-3 engines ignited for a single 6 minutes 20 seconds burn to put the instrumented Centaur stage into a 547 x 1691 km x 30.4 degree orbit.

ULA press release: http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/pages/News.shtml#/162/
Atlas-Centaur test flights by Ed Kyle: http://www.spacelaunchreport.com/aclv3cb.html

The AC-2 Centaur is still up there, 50 years later.

I was surprised to realize that Atlas Centaur almost lost the liquid hydrogen race.  SA-5, the first Block 2 Saturn 1 with a live S-IV stage powered by six RL10 engines, was fully stacked on LC 37B by mid October, 1963, more than a month before AC-2 lifted off.  Several delays during propellant loading testing pushed the SA-5 launch back into January 1964, but for awhile it looked like SA-5 might fly before AC-2!

So that's another 50th year anniversary approaching.  In the mean time, I'm content thinking about SA-5 standing on its launch pad 50 years ago during the holidays.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 11/27/2013 07:03 pm by edkyle99 »

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