|astronautix.com||Chronology - 1959 - Quarter 3|
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The Pilotless Aircraft Research Division of the Langley Research Center launched a 1/14th-scale model of the Mercury spacecraft at Wallops Island to a speed of Mach 3.5 and at an altitude of 40,000 feet. The model spacecraft went into a continuous tumble from separation to landing. References: 483 .
Minneapolis-Honeywell delivered the first automatic stabilization and control system for the Mercury spacecraft to McDonnell. References: 483 .
The order for Jupiter launch vehicles in support of Project Mercury was canceled because the same or better data could be obtained from Atlas flights. References: 483 .
The first experimental reactor (Kiwi-A) in the nuclear space rocket program operated successfully at full temperature and duration at Jackass Flats, Nev. References: 17 .
Project Mercury astronauts completed disorientation flights on three-axis space-flight simulator, the MASTIF (Multiple Axis Space Test Inertia Facility), at NASA Lewis Research Center. References: 17 .
A pressure suit compatibility evaluation in the Mercury spacecraft mock-up was performed in suits submitted by the David Clark Company, B. F. Goodrich Company, and International Latex Company. Four subjects participated in the tests. References: 483 .
State Committee for Defence Technology (GKOT) Decree 'On attaching of TsNII-58 for solid-propellant work to OKB-1' was issued. References: 474 .
Four-stage Argo D4 rocket with an ARDC Javelin payload fired from Wallops Island to an altitude of 750 miles, first in a series of USAF-NASA launchings to measure natural radiation surrounding the earth. References: 17 .
As developmental planning for Project Mercury evolved, NASA notified the Army that to reduce the variety of launching vehicles to Jupiter missile would not be used for Project Mercury tests. References: 17 .
NASA Lewis Research Center operated a research model of an ion rocket in a newly completed electric-rocket test facility designed for basic investigations into the problems associated with a reliable ion rocket with a minimum life of 1 year. References: 17 .
Fired from AMR at 2001 hours EST to test missile accuracy. All primary and secondary missions were successfully accomplished and impact was well within 1 nm of the pre-selected point, approximately 1,302 nm downrange -- a miss distance of only 0.48 nm short and 0.09 nm to the right. References: 439 .
Decree 'On formation of the Design Department of OKB-1 at the Progress Plant in Kuibyshev' was issued. References: 474 .
NASA selected Western Electric Co. to build worldwide network of tracking and ground instrument stations to be used in Project Mercury. References: 17 .
Negotiations for construction of the Mercury tracking network were started with the Western Electric Company and their subcontractors (Bendix Aviation, International Business Machines, Bell Telephone Laboratories, and Burns and Roe), and a letter contract was signed on July 30, 1959, for the entire range. This included radar tracking; telemetry receiving, recording, and display; communications to both the spacecraft and surface stations; and the computing and control facilities. References: 483 .
Missile test failure. Missed aimpoint by 684 m. References: 439 .
The B. F. Goodrich Company was selected as the contractor to design and develop the Mercury astronaut pressure suit. Company technology in this field dated back to 1934, when it developed the first rubber stratosphere flying suit for attempts at setting altitude records. References: 483 .
A successful pad abort flight of a Mercury boilerplate spacecraft with a production version of the escape tower and rocket was made. The escape rocket motor was manufactured by Grand Central Rocket, and the flight was the first operational test of this component. References: 483 .
Advanced Research Projects Agency representatives visited Army Ordnance Missile Command to discuss studies of a Maneuverable Recoverable Space Vehicle (MRSV). The general purpose was to identify U.S. space needs before 1970 which might require vehicles of this type. References: 16 .
USAF Thor data capsule recovered near Antigua which contained movie film showing nose cone separation. References: 17 .
A boilerplate spacecraft, instrumented to measure sound pressure level and vibration, was launched in the second beach abort test leading to the Little Joe test series. The purpose of the instrumentation was to obtain measurement of the vibration and sound environment encountered on the capsule during the firing of the Grand Central abort rocket. Memo, Charles A. Hardesty to NASA Langley IRD files, subject: Sound Measurements on the Second Beach Abort Test on the Little Joe Capsule, Oct. 9, 1959. References: 483 .
Letter Contract NASA 1-430 was awarded to the Western Electric Company for construction of the Mercury tracking and ground instrumentation system. References: 483 .
The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) directed the Army Ordnance Missile Command to proceed with the static firing of the first Saturn vehicle, the test booster SA-T, in early calendar year 1960 in accordance with the $70 million program and not to accelerate for a January 1960 firing. ARPA asked to be informed of the scheduled firing date. References: 16 .
Missile test failure. Missed aimpoint by 2,707 m. References: 439 .
Four F-102 aircraft were made available for use by the Mercury astronauts to maintain proficiency in high performance vehicles. References: 483 .
The STG New Projects Panel (proposed by H. Kurt Strass in June) held its first meeting to discuss NASA's future manned space program. Present were Strass, Chairman, Alan B. Kehlet, William S. Augerson, Jack Funk, and other STG members. Strass summarized the philosophy behind NASA's proposed objective of a manned lunar landing : maximum utilization of existing technology in a series of carefully chosen projects, each of which would provide a firm basis for the next step and be a significant advance in its own right. Additional Details: NASA's future manned space program. References: 16 .
NASA Headquarters approved a Space Task Group proposal that negotiations be undertaken with McDonnell for the fabrication of six additional Mercury spacecraft. References: 483 .
The astronauts began their initial centrifuge training at the Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory. During the first part of the month Space Task Group personnel had installed and checked out Mercury spacecraft simulation equipment at the Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory in preparation for the astronaut centrifuge training program. References: 483 .
First of NIKE-ASP sounding rockets to provide geophysical information on wind activity between 50 and 150 miles high was launched successfully from NASA Wallops Station. References: 17 .
At its second meeting, STG's New Projects Panel decided that the first major project to be investigated would be the second-generation reentry capsule. The Panel was presented a chart outlining the proposed sequence of events for manned lunar mission system analysis. The target date for a manned lunar landing was 1970. References: 16 .
During the countdown of the first programed Little Joe launching (LJ-1 beach abort test) at Wallops Island, the escape rocket fired prematurely 31 minutes before the scheduled launch. The spacecraft rose to an altitude of 2,000 feet and landed about 2,000 feet from the launch site. Premature firing was caused by a faulty escape circuit. References: 483 .
A short range (300 nm) IRBM, was fired from AMR at 2030 hours EST. The nose cone impacted 0.03 nm short and, 0.22 nm to the right, of the intended target. This was the first Jupiter missile to be programmed for a short range flight. All primary and secondary missions were accomplished. References: 439 .
A House Committee Staff Report stated that lunar flights would originate from space platforms in earth orbit according to current planning. The final decision on the method to be used, "which must be made soon," would take into consideration the difficulty of space rendezvous between a space platform and space vehicles as compared with the difficulty of developing single vehicles large enough to proceed directly from the earth to the moon. References: 16 .
McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, St. Louis, Missouri, issued a report on the company's studies using a modified Mercury capsule to explore some problems of space flight beyond the initial manned exploration of space through Mercury. The 300-page report discussed six follow-on experiments: touchdown control, maneuver in orbit, self-contained guidance, 14-day mission, manned reconnaissance, and lunar-orbit reentry. These were more in the nature of technically supported suggestions than firm proposals, but all six experiments could be conducted with practical modifications of Mercury capsules.
McDonnell Aircraft Corporation reported to NASA the results of several company-funded studies of follow-on experiments using Mercury spacecraft with heatshields modified to withstand lunar reentry conditions. In one experiment, a Centaur booster would accelerate a Mercury spacecraft plus a third stage into an eccentric earth orbit with an apogee of about 1,200 miles, so that the capsule would reenter at an angle similar to that required for reentry from lunar orbit. The third stage would then fire, boosting the spacecraft to a speed of 36,000 feet per second as it reentered the atmosphere. References: 16 .
A study of the guidance and control design for a variety of space missions began at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory under a NASA contract. References: 16 .
The Tsybin bureau was closed down shortly after the draft project was completed. Tsybin and his staff transferred to the Myasishchev bureau in October 1959 (which had its own on-going VKA-23 winged spacecraft project). The Myasishchev bureau was then in turn closed and the staff transferred to Filial 1 of Chelomeiís OKB-52 bureau in 1960. Tsybinís work on the PKA was passed to the Mikoyan bureau and formed the starting point for the design of the Spiral spaceplane.
Launching of Mercury capsule mockup from Wallops Station to test the escape and recovery systems; emergency escape rocket accidentally fired 30 minutes before scheduled firing of the Little Joe booster. References: 17 , 278 .
A Big Joe Atlas boilerplate Mercury spacecraft model was successfully launched and flown from Cape Canaveral, although booster-engine separation did not occur. Objectives of this test flight were to determine the performance of the ablation shield and measure afterbody heating; to determine the flight dynamics of the spacecraft during reentry; to evaluate the adequacy of the spacecraft recovery system and procedures; to familiarize operating personnel with Atlas launch procedures; to evaluate loads on the spacecraft while in the flight environment; to observe and evaluate the operation of the spacecraft control system; and to recover the spacecraft. The flight was considered to be highly successful, and a majority of the test objectives were attained. The heat shield temperatures (reaching a peak of 3,500 degrees F) were below those expected, but were close enough to provide data for the engineering design of the Mercury heat shield. Space Task Group officials were also pleased that the spacecraft could reenter the atmosphere at high angles-of-attack and maintain its heat shield in a forward position without using the control system. The spacecraft was picked up by the recovery force about 8 hours after lift-off. Because of the success of this flight, a similar launch was considered unnecessary and accordingly was canceled. References: 483 .
Suborbital. NASA boilerplate model of Mercury capsule successfully launched on an Atlas (Big Joe) missile from AMR and recovered in South Atlantic after surviving reentry heat of more than 10,000°F. References: 5 , 26 , 59 , 278 .
At a spacecraft mock-up review, the astronauts submitted several recommended changes. These involved a new instrument panel, a forward centerline window, and an explosive side egress hatch. References: 483 .
First probe to impact lunar surface. Delivered a pennant to the surface of the Moon and conducted research during flight to the Moon. Impacted Moon 13 Sep 1959 at 22:02:04 UT, Latitude 29.10 N, Longitude 0.00 - Palus Putredinis, east of Mare Serenitatis near the Aristides, Archimedes, and Autolycus craters. After launch and attainment of escape velocity, Luna 2 separated from its third stage, which travelled along with it towards the Moon. On 13 September the spacecraft released a bright orange cloud of sodium gas which aided in spacecraft tracking and acted as an experiment on the behavior of gas in space. On 14 September, after 33.5 hours of flight, radio signals from Luna 2 abruptly ceased, indicating it had impacted on the Moon. Some 30 minutes after Luna 2, the third stage of its rocket also impacted the Moon. The mission confirmed that the Moon had no appreciable magnetic field, and found no evidence of radiation belts at the Moon. References: 1 , 2 , 5 , 6 , 175 , 296 .
First Chinese missile production factories built: Shenyang (missile frames) Nancheng (engines). References: 87 .
Scheduled for launch at 0430 hours EST, was fired from AMR at 1645 hours EST. The nose cane housed several NASA biological specimens, including 14 mice. References: 439 .
The ARPA-NASA Booster Evaluation Committee appointed by Herbert F. York, DOD Director of Defense Research and Engineering, April 15, 1959, convened to review plans for advanced launch vehicles. A comparison of the Saturn (C-1) and the Titan-C boosters showed that the Saturn, with its substantially greater payload capacity, would be ready at least one year sooner than the Titan-C. In addition, the cost estimates on the Titan-C proved to be unrealistic. On the basis of the Advanced Research Projects Agency presentation, York agreed to continue the Saturn program but, following the meeting, began negotiations with NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan to transfer the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (and, therefore, Saturn ) to NASA. References: 16 .
Successful missile test. Missed aimpoint by 228 m. References: 439 .
Between September 21 and October 10, 1959, a research program was carried out by the Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory to measure the effects of sustained acceleration on the pilot's ability to control a vehicle. Various side-arm controllers were used, and it appeared that the three-axis type (yaw, roll, and pitch) was the most satisfactory. Later this configuration was extensively evaluated and adopted for use in the control system of the Mercury spacecraft. References: 483 .
At the third meeting of STG's New Projects Panel, Alan B. Kehlet presented suggestions for the multimanned reentry capsule. A lenticular-shaped vehicle was proposed, to ferry three occupants safely to earth from a lunar mission at a velocity of about 36,000 feet per second. References: 16 .
Space Task Group's (STG) New Projects Panel discussed the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation proposals for follow-on experiments using Project Mercury capsules. Additional Details: Proposals for follow-on experiments using Project Mercury capsules..
Fired from AMR at 2028 hours EST. The primary mission of impacting the nose cone in a pre-calculated target area was successfully accomplished . The missile covered a pre-calculated range of 1,299.4 nm, with the nose cone impacting within 1.25 nm of the predicted point. In addition to the usual ST-90 Stabiliser Platform, the missile carried a second system for relative accuracy and for drift investigations. It also housed a telemetry system. A significant mission was to determine environmental flight conditions. References: 439 .
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