|astronautix.com||Chronology - 1959 - Quarter 4|
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Funds were approved by NASA Headquarters for the following major changes to the Mercury spacecraft: egress hatch installation (CCP-58-1), astronaut observation window installation (CCP-73); rate stabilization and control system (CCP-61-2), main instrument and panel redesign (CCP-76), installation of reefed ringsail landing parachute (CCP-41), and nonspecification configurations of spacecraft (CCP-8). With reference to the last item, the original contract with McDonnell had specified only one spacecraft configuration, but the various research and development flight tests required changes in the configuration. References: 483 .
McDonnell received the first ablative heat shield, designated for installation on Spacecraft No. 1. This particular heat shield was based on the Big Joe design, and was manufactured by General Electric. References: 483 .
North American Aviation and Minneapolis-Honeywell were notified to proceed with the production of hardware for an air-supplied launch-vehicle control system. References: 483 .
First flight with propellant in tank 4 of the cruise stage. Boosters featured an improved main engines without OT-155 valve (S2.1150 replacing S2.1100). The cruise stage used the improved RD-012U ramjet in place of the previous RD-012. The first stage operated faultlessly and separation was normal without vibrations. Ignition of the cruise stageo ccurred at Mach 2.87 at 16.8 km altitude. The SVD Air Sensor System worked abnormally, so the decision was made to disconnect the SVD sensors and fly the mission using only the astronavigation system and hold inertial velocity to Mach 3.15-3.2. The flight continued to T+10 minutes 17 seconds and the planned flight program was completed.
Luna 3 was the third spacecraft successfully launched to the Moon and the first to return images of the lunar far side. It was launched on a figure-eight trajectory which brought it over the Moon (closest approach to the Moon was 6200 km) and around the far side, which was sunlit at the time. It was stabilized while in optical view of the far side of the Moon. On October 7, 1959, the television system obtained a series of 29 photographs over 40 minutes, covering 70% of the surface, that were developed on-board the spacecraft. The photographs were scanned and 17 were radio transmitted to ground stations in facsimile form on October 18, 1959, as the spacecraft, in a barycentric orbit, returned near the Earth. The photographs were to be retransmitted at another point close to Earth but were not received. The spacecraft returned very indistinct pictures, but, through computer enhancement, a tentative atlas of the lunar farside was produced. These first views of the lunar far side showed mountainous terrain, very different from the near side, and two dark regions which were named Mare Moscovrae (Sea of Moscow) and Mare Desiderii (Sea of Dreams). References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 175 , 296 .
A Little Joe launch vehicle carrying a boilerplate spacecraft (LJ-6) was successfully launched from Wallops Island. Objectives of the flight were to check the integrity of the launch vehicle airframe and motor system, check the operations of the launcher, to check the validity of the calculated wind corrections, to obtain performance and drag data, and to check the operation of the destruct system. The flight, lasting 5 minutes 10 seconds, gained a peak altitude of 37.12 statute miles, and a range of 79.4 statute miles. The destruct packages carried on board the Little Joe launch vehicles were successfully initiated well after the flight had reached its apex. There was a slight malfunction in the Little Joe launch vehicle when ignition of the two second-stage Pollux motors fired before the exact time planned. Actually, the planned trajectory was little affected and the structural test of the vehicle, really greater than planned, was benefited. References: 483 .
NASA Little Joe launch vehicle carrying a boilerplate Mercury capsule with a dummy escape system successfully launched from Wallops Station, Va. References: 17 .
Explorer VII achieved orbit and began providing significant geophysical information on solar and earth radiation, magnetic storms, and micrometeorite penetration. This satellite also successfully demonstrated a method of controlling internal temperatures. References: 483 .
The first full range tactical prototype, was fired from AMR at 2220 hours EST. All missions assigned to the flight was successfully accomplished. The missile covered a prescribed range of 1,600.448 nm, with the nose cone impacting 0.9 nm short and 0.6 nm to the right. This was the fourth Chrysler-assembled missile to be flight tested. References: 439 .
Integrated Weapon System Training Launch 6
After a meeting with officials concerned with the missile and space program, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced that he intended to transfer to NASA control the Army Ballistic Missile Agency's Development Operations Division personnel and facilities. The transfer, subject to congressional approval, would include the Saturn development program. References: 16 .
100-foot-diameter inflatable sphere launched on a suborbital test flight from NASA Wallops Station, Va., to an altitude of 250 miles by a first Sergeant-Delta rocket; aluminum-coated Mylar-plastic sphere to be used as passive electronic reflector in Echo was developed by NASA Langley's Space Vehicle Group under the direction of William J. O'Sullivan. References: 17 .
Douglas Aircraft Co., Inc., was visited by a representative of the London Daily Mail newspaper who was visiting several companies to collect ideas for space stations. The Daily Mail held a highly promoted public exhibition each year called the 'London Daily Mail Home Show,' and wanted to have 'A Home in Space' as the theme for the 1959 show. Douglas offered to do a full design study (including mockup details) for him, and after visiting several other companies he returned and informed Douglas they had won the 'competition.' Additional Details: Douglas contacted by Daily Mail newspaper on ideas for space stations..
The first manned development system tests were completed at the AiResearch Manufacturing Division, Garrett Corporation. Tests were conducted in the altitude chamber to determine proper functioning of all system valves and components. A McDonnell subject was clothed in a Mercury-type presure suit for these tests. Preliminary data from these tests indicated that the system functioned satisfactorily. References: 483 .
Between November 1959 and January 1960, 10 developmental Mercury full-pressure suits were delivered. These suits were used in various Mercury training and development programs. Several problem areas were denoted. One involved stretching which complicated the suit mobility problem. This matter was being investigated, and one of the solutions was felt to be undersizing to allow for a suit growth factor. In addition, modifications would have to be made in suit insulation to provide for better pilot mobility. These problems were to be expected in a developmental program. References: 483 .
Prototype Goodrich full-pressure Mercury astronaut suits (modified Navy Mark IV) were delivered to NASA. Navy Air Crew Equipment Laboratory (NACEL) of Philadelphia fitted suits and indoctrinated the astronauts on their use. References: 17 .
At an STG meeting, it was decided to begin planning of advanced spacecraft systems. Three primary assignments were made:
Fired from AMR at 1938 hours EST to a pre-selected range of 1,299.4 nm. The nose cone impacted 0.56 nm short and 0.09 nm right of the impact point. The test successfully accomplished all intended missions. This was the first highly successful, Chrysler-assembled Jupiter fired in the test program sad was the first fired without static firing. References: 439 .
Little Joe 1-A (LJ-1A) was launched in a test for a planned abort under high aerodynamic load conditions. This flight was a repeat of the Little Joe (LJ-1) that had been planned for August 21, 1959 (escape rocket fired 31 min before the intended launch of the Little Joe launch vehicle). After lift-off, the pressure sensing system was to supply a signal when the intended abort dynamic pressure was reached (about 30 sec after launch). An electrical impulse was then sent to the explosive bolts to separate the spacecraft from the launch vehicle. Up to this point, the operation went as planned, but the impulse was also designed to start the igniter in the escape motor. The igniter activated, but pressure failed to build up in the motor until a number of seconds had elapsed. Thus the abort maneuver, the prime mission of the flight, was accomplished at a dynamic pressure that was too low. For this reason a repeat of the test was planned. All other events from the launch through recovery occurred without incident. The flight attained an altitude of 9 statute miles, a range of 11.5 statute miles, and a speed of 2,021.6 miles per hour. References: 483 .
The astronauts were fitted with pressure suits and indoctrinated as to use at the B. F. Goodrich Company, Akron, Ohio. References: 483 .
Between this date and December 5, 1959, the tentative design and layout of the Mercury Control Center to be used to monitor the orbiting flight of the Mercury spacecraft were completed. The control center would have trend charts to indicate the astronaut's condition and world map displays to keep continuous track of the Mercury spacecraft. References: 483 .
Boeing and Martin selected by USAF to develop Dynasoar and Titan I launch vehicle. References: 26 .
Five-stage sounding rocket launched from NASA Wallops Island to an altitude of 1,050 miles to measure density of electrons in upper atmosphere. References: 17 .
Under sponsorship of COSPAR, an internationally coordinated program of scientific rocket soundings of the upper atmosphere was conducted. The U.S. contribution included 10 rocket firings. References: 17 .
Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On tasking NII-4 to create a sea-based communications network' was issued. References: 474 .
Successfully fired from AMR at 2031 hours EST to a pre-calculated range of 664.8 nm. Nose cone impacted 0.9 nm over and 1.0 nm left of the target. This was the first medium range flight for a tactical prototype. References: 439 .
Nike-Asp sounding rocket fired from NASA Wallops Station emitted sodium vapor at 50-mile altitude to 150 miles, revealing powerful windshear effects. References: 17 .
Second sodium-vapor-trail experiment in Nike-Asp launch from Wallops Island was not successful. References: 17 .
An intended lunar probe launched from the Atlantic Missile Range by an Atlas-Able booster disintegrated about 45 seconds later when the protective sheath covering the payload detached prematurely. The probe was sponsored by NASA, developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and launched by the Air Force Ballistic Missile Division. References: 5 , 126 , 278 .
While awaiting the formal transfer of the Saturn program, NASA formed a study group to recommend upper-stage configurations. Membership was to include the DOD Director of Defense Research and Engineering and personnel from NASA, Advanced Research Projects Agency, Army Ballistic Missile Agency, and the Air Force. This group was later known both as the Saturn Vehicle Team and the Silverstein Committee (for Abe Silverstein, Chairman). References: 16 .
Twelve nations signed a treaty making the Antarctic continent a preserve for scientific research, immune from political and military strife. Signatories were Argentina, Australia, Great Britain, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway, Belgium, Japan, South Africa, the Soviet Union, and the United States. Legal experts have suggested that the Antarctic Treaty provided a precedent for similar agreements demilitarizing the moon and other bodies in space. References: 16 .
These tests proved the design of the missile actually deployed to pads in Baikonur and Plesetsk.
A weightless flying training program was started by the Mercury astronauts in the F-100 aircraft at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Eating, drinking, and psychomotor tests were conducted while the astronauts were in a weightless state. References: 483 .
An R-7 would loft the 4.5 tonne VKA vehicle to 400 km suborbital trajectory.
This directorate's activities were limited specifically to safekeeping of the warheads of the RSVN rocket forces.
LJ-2 was launched from Wallops Island to determine the motions of the spacecraft escape tower combination during a high-altitude abort, entry dynamics without a control system, physiological effects of acceleration on a small primate, operation of the drogue parachute, and effectiveness of the recovery operation. Telemetry was set up to record some 80 bits of information on the flight. The abort sequence was initiated by timers after 59 seconds of elapsed flight time at an altitude of about 96,000 feet and a speed of Mach 5.5. Escape motor firing occurred as planned and the spacecraft was whisked away at a speed of about Mach 6 to an apogee of 53.03 statute miles. All other sequences operated as planned, and spacecraft recovery was effected in about 2 hours from lift-off. The primate passenger, 'Sam,' an American-born rhesus monkey, withstood the trip and the recovery in good condition. All objectives of the mission were met. References: 17 .
The initial plan for transferring the Army Ballistic Missile Agency and Saturn to NASA was drafted. It was submitted to President Dwight D. Eisenhower on December 1 1 and was signed by Secretary of the Army Wilber M. Brucker and Secretary of the Air Force James H. Douglas on December 16 and by NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan on December 17. References: 16 .
The Advanced Research Projects Agency ARPA and NASA requested the Army Ordnance Missile Command AOMC to prepare an engineering and cost study for a new Saturn configuration with a second stage of four 20,000-pound-thrust liquid-hydrogen and liquid-oxygen engines (later called the S-IV stage) and a modified Centaur third stage using two of these engines later designated the S-V stage). Additional Details: Engineering and cost study for a new Saturn configuration. References: 16 .
H. H. Koelle told members of the Research Steering Committee of mission possibilities being considered at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency. These included an engineering satellite, an orbital return capsule, a space crew training vehicle, a manned orbital laboratory, a manned circumlunar vehicle, and a manned lunar landing and return vehicle. He described the current Saturn configurations, including the "C" launch vehicle to be operational in 1967. The Saturn C (larger than the C-1) would be able to boost 85,000 pounds into earth orbit and 25,000 pounds into an escape trajectory. References: 16 .
Several possible configurations for a manned lunar landing by direct ascent being studied at the Lewis Research Center were described to the Research Steering Committee by Seymour C. Himmel. A six-stage launch vehicle would be required, the first three stages to boost the spacecraft to orbital speed, the fourth to attain escape speed, the fifth for lunar landing, and the sixth for lunar escape with a 10,000-pound return vehicle. One representative configuration had an overall height of 320 feet. H. H. Koelle of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency argued that orbital assembly or refueling in orbit (earth orbit rendezvous) was more flexible, more straightforward, and easier than the direct ascent approach. Bruce T. Lundin of the Lewis Research Center felt that refueling in orbit presented formidable problems since handling liquid hydrogen on the ground was still not satisfactory. Lewis was working on handling cryogenic fuels in space. References: 16 .
At the third meeting of the Research Steering Committee on Manned Space Flight held at Langley Research Center, H. Kurt Strass reported on STG's thinking on steps leading to manned lunar flight and on a particular capsule-laboratory spacecraft. The project steps beyond Mercury were: radiation experiments, minimum space and reentry vehicle (manned), temporary space laboratory (manned), lunar data acquisition (unmanned), lunar circumnavigation or lunar orbiter (unmanned), lunar base supply (unmanned), and manned lunar landing. STG felt that the lunar mission should have a three-man crew. A configuration was described in which a cylindrical laboratory was attached to the reentry capsule. This laboratory would provide working space for the astronauts until it was jettisoned before reentry. Preliminary estimates put the capsule weight at about 6,600 pounds and the capsule plus laboratory at about 10,000 pounds. References: 16 .
Committee formed to recommend post-Mercury space program. After four meetings, and studying earth-orbit assembly using Saturn II or direct ascent using Nova, tended to back development of Nova. References: 26 , 27 .
Fired from AMR at 1908 hours EST. The original countdown of 480 minutes was shortened to 240 minutes. The flight was successful in all phases. The nose cone impacted 0.3 nm over and 2.0 nm right of the 2,299.4 nm range. References: 439 .
Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 1386-618 'On the Creation of AMS for Landing on the Moon. and Flights to Venus and Mars-- approving automated lunar and interplanetary spacecraft' was issued. References: 474 .
Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On the Development of Research on Cosmic Space-future of Soviet space program (piloted. interplanetary, spaceplane)' was issued. References: 474 .
The General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously approved Resolution 1472 (XIV), establishing the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space to replace the Ad Hoc Committee. There were no meetings of the Committee until November 27, 1961, because of failure to agree on the composition of the Committee. References: 16 .
First Titan ICBM launching testing second stage was unsuccessful at AMR. References: 17 .
Fired from AMR at 1903 hours EST to a prescribed distance of 300 nm. The flight was successful in all phases. Impact was 0.3 nm to the right of the 300 nm range. References: 439 .
Council of Soviet Ministers (SM) Decree 1384-615 / TsK Decree 254 'On the Establishment of the Post of Commander-in-Chief of Missile Forces in the Armed Forces of the USSR--creation of the Strategic Missile Forces' are issued. References: 474 .
The Chairman, AEC, in a letter to the Administrator of NASA, proposed a flight test objective be established for the nuclear rocket program and proposed a technical program and division of agency responsibilities to achieve those objectives. References: 17 .
In a United States-Canadian cooperative project, NASA launched the first four-stage Javelin sounding rocket from Wallops Station to an altitude of 560 miles to measure the intensity of galactic radio noise. References: 17 .
The Redstone launch vehicle for the first Mercury-Redstone mission (MR-1) was installed on the interim test stand at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency for static testing. References: 483 .
Mercury astronauts completed basic and theoretical studies in their training program and started practical engineering studies. References: 17 .
NASA accepted the recommendations of the Saturn Vehicle Evaluation Committee Silverstein Committee on the Saturn C-1 configuration and on a long-range Saturn program. A research and development plan of ten vehicles was approved. The C-1 configuration would include the S-1 stage (eight H-1 engines clustered, producing 1.5 million pounds of thrust), the S-IV stage (four engines producing 80,000 pounds of thrust), and the S-V stage two engines producing 40,000 pounds of thrust. References: 16 .
Korolev abandons work on nuclear-powered rockets. Future launch vehicles to be based on conventional lox/keroesene propellants. References: 21 .
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