|astronautix.com||Radio Test Spacecraft|
Small satellite was to have verified the readiness of the worldwide Mercury tracking network
A document was issued regarding use of a Scout test vehicle to evaluate the performance of the Mercury tracking and real-time computing system. NASA Headquarters tentatively approved the plan on May 24, 1961.
The Space Task Group forwarded to NASA Headquarters the details for the Mercury-Scout instrumentation system. This mission was to check the operational effectiveness of the Mercury global tracking network.
An announcement was made that a Mercury-Scout launch would be made to verify the readiness of the world-wide Mercury Tracking network to handle further orbital flights.
An attempt was made to launch Mercury-Scout 1 (MS-1) into orbit with a communications package further to qualify the radar tracking of the Mercury global network prior to manned orbital flight. Shortly after lift-off, the launch vehicle developed erratic motions and attending high aerodynamic loads, and was destroyed by the Range Safety Officer after 43 seconds of flight. No further attempts were planned. The Mercury-Atlas 4 (MA-4) mission and the successful Mercury-Atlas 5 (MA-5), flown on November 29, 1961, disclosed that the network met all requirements.