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Artykuły o Project Vanguard
« dnia: Marzec 17, 2023, 14:22 »
Vanguard Rocket Burns on Beach; Failure to Launch Test Satellite Assailed as Blow to U.S. Prestige
December 7, 1957 By MILTON BRACKER

Sphere Survives -- But Carrier Rises Only 2 to 4 Feet Before Flames Wreck It

Credit: The Associated Press


Cocoa Beach, Fla., Dec. 6 -- The rocket bearing the United States test satellite burst into flame and was almost consumed on Cape Canaveral beach this morning two seconds after firing. It had risen two to four feet.

The seventy-two-foot Vanguard vehicle -- only forty-five inches in diameter at its widest point -- was wrecked by a great fiery billow of flames nearly twice as high as the rocket itself.

Surprisingly, the satellite-bearing third stage, embedded in the nose of the second stage, survived the crash of the rocket. It was thrown clear.

However, it will not be usable, said J. Paul Walsh, deputy director of Project Vanguard.

Satellite Undamaged

Even more remarkably, the satellite itself -- weighing barely four pounds, and about the size of a grapefruit or softball -- was undamaged.

[In Washington, Dr. John P. Hagen, chief of Project Vanguard, said that the failure of the rocket was "undoubtedly a failure of some individual part" rather than one of design.]

Mr. Walsh said that the satellite had continued to send out its radio signals by its two transmitters.

Technicians would have to open the satellite to turn off transmitters, he explained.

The Department of Defense, in a brief statement, said that the launching was "not successful and the rocket burned on the pad." The statement used the verb "exploded," noting that all fires had been extinguished and all personnel was safe.

Although it was "up" barely two seconds, the rocket's telemetering system in its second stage functioned for that period. The data it transmitted, Mr. Walsh said, were "stuff worth its weight in gold."

Data to Be Studied

These data -- amounting to hundreds of items -- will take several days to evaluate, according to Mr. Walsh and Elliott Felt, operations manager for the Martin Company of Baltimore, primary contractor on the Vanguard rocket.

Mr. Felt, whose demeanor indicated he felt the disaster keenly, interposed that "what we know is the end of a chain of events and we are trying to find out what happened -- what caused it."

Although Mr. Walsh and associates repeatedly mentioned loss of thrust in describing the rocket disaster, they also said several times that the cause could not necessarily be attributed to any phase of the launching operation. As Mr. Walsh put it, "something happened. We don't know what."

Mr. Walsh also said that the flames had damaged the launching pad, which is the only one capable of handling the Vanguard vehicle.

The Vanguard crew has another vehicle in the Martin hangar ready to go, Mr. Walsh added.

Spectators on near-by beaches gasped in awe and dismay as the orange blaze seethed up against a clear blue sky. Within seconds of the outburst, the flame changed to brown-black smoke. This spread into a crudely shaped mass that rapidly dissipated in the morning breeze.

According to Plan

At zero hour -- 11:45 A.M. -- everything had gone according to plan. The red and white gantry crane had been retired; the cloud of vaporizing liquid oxygen was forming properly at the junction of the first and second stages of the rocket.

Gradually, the seconds ticked away, and the tension mounted. At T minus sixty, an hour before firing, Mr. Walsh opened a telephone circuit direct to his chief, Dr. Hagen in Washington.

"I told him zero, fire, ignition," the youthful deputy chief said a few hours later in recounting the final moments. There was a series of rumbles. The rocket, losing thrust because of lowered pressure in the first stage ignition chamber, toppled and collapsed in flame. "The first thing I think I said to him," Mr. Walsh said quietly, was "explosion."

What did Dr. Hagen say?

"He said nothing," said Mr. Walsh.

Later Mr. Walsh said there was some doubt that the disaster ought to be technically described as an explosion. He substituted "rapid burning."

Mr. Walsh said he could not assess the impact of the failure upon the remainder of the Vanguard program, which was originally announced at the White House on July 29, 1955. It was to have culminated in the launching of a twenty-inch satellite next March, in connection with the International Geophysical Year.

The briefing was held less than three hours after the rocket disaster. It took place in the theatre at Patrick Air Force Base, administration headquarters of the Cape Canaveral test center.

Mr. Walsh was jauntily dressed in sports clothes. He appeared to be in good spirits as he said:

"It was a real successful operation in terms of keeping things running smoothly. Toward the close and a little later, this rocket was flying. It wasn't a long flight--but it was flying."

Beside Mr. Walsh and Mr. Felt on the stage was Herschel Schooley, chief of information of the Department of Defense.

Mr. Schooley pointed out that, despite the setback to Vanguard and the damage to the launching pad mentioned by Mr. Walsh, the other projects on the cape were continuing.

An Air Force Snark was successfully tested last night. And, Mr. Schooley said, while the briefing was in progress a count-down had started toward the launching of an Air Force Bomarc. The Snark is a surface to surface missile; Bomarc is surface to air.

The psychological and political pressure on the project, entrusted to the Naval Research Laboratory, has increased greatly since the launching of the Soviet satellites on Oct. 4 and Nov. 3.

But Vanguard spokesmen insisted the program had in no way been affected by the Soviet success.

Today's launching had never been described as other than a test, technically TV -- test vehicle -- No. 3. There had previously been TV zero, one and two.

The scientific aspect of the Vanguard failure could not obscure, in this missile center of the nation, the keen disappointment felt by thousands of would-be spectators.

When the flames billowed high on Cape Canaveral, site of the Air Force missile test center a few miles from this beach community, people looked first shocked, then grieved.

On the Bana River bridge from Merritt Island, anglers shook their heads and went back to their fishing with less joy. At the Merritt Island school, children who had exulted at other successful launchings seemed perplexed.

On the beaches were thousands of dollars worth of photographic equipment converged on the site.

Newcomers at rocketwatching could not believe what they saw. They thought the big flame meant the start of the rocket's ascent.

Wiser observers disabused them.

Down Highway A1A, the staffs of the luxury motels--places with indicative names, such as the Sea Missile, the Starlite, and the Vanguard -- stopped smiling. It was as if the region's pride had been deflated by the disaster.

Earlier, as the scheduled firing neared, tension had mounted among the spectators lining the sunny beach.

In the last dozen minutes, the scene seemed fixed in the eyes of the observers as it had been described by others who had seen it before with other types of rockets.

Then, when the atmosphere seemed tranquil, came the burst of flame that many mistook at first for a sign of success.

"Oh, How Awful."

"Oh, how awful!" a woman said, pressing a hand to her cheek when she was told of the failure.

A Colombian lawyer, Pablo Moreno, from Medellin, who was spending his vacation in the area, looked on incredulously and asked a Spanish-speaking friend, "Que paso?"

"Fracaso," replied the friend sadly.

That meant failure.

Copyright 1997 The New York Times Company

Vanguard 1, Silent, to Orbit The Earth for Centuries
March 16, 1975

COLORADO SPRINGS, March 15 (UPI)—The Air Force said today that Vanguard I, the nation's oldest satellite, would orbit the earth indefinitely despite a breakdown in equipment relaying information.

A spokesman for the North; American Air Defense Command said the grapefruit‐sized satellite, “will stay in space for hundreds of years before it loses enough orbital energy to plunge it into the earth's atmosphere.”

Norad said the satellite, which begins its 18th year in orbit on Monday, would disintegrate in the atmosphere because of the friction caused by re‐entry.

VANGUARD 1 LOSES ITS RADIO SIGNAL; Six Years of Transmission Provided Valuable Data
May 3, 1964

WASHINGTON, May 2—With no official notice, the tiny Vanguard 1 satellite, a spaceage symbol of failure turned into success, has fallen silent in space.

Before going off the air, however, the 3.25‐pound satellite had set an audible record in space as well as provided unexpected insights into the shape of the earth.

Ever since the launching on March 17, 1958, one of the satellite's miniature transmitters had been sending back a steady drone of faint radio signals with only a few thousandths of a watt of power.

No other satellite had transmitted so long in orbit. Its three predecessors—the first two Soviet sputniks and the Explorer I of the United States —had long since gone silent, as had many of the more sophisticated satellites that followed it into space.

Then shortly after its sixth anniversary—exactly when the Naval Research Laboratory is not certain—the radio signals ceased.

What caused the failure is not known. At the laboratory, Roger L. Easton, who helped develop the radio and took care of the satellite before launching, theorized that radiation had damaged the one transistor in the transmitter.

Project Vanguard, as it was called, never lived up to its name. In the glare of world publicity, the project had repeated failures with the launching rocket. The Soviet Union then stole the show by launching the first satellite. Finally, the Army was called in to launch the first American satellite.

When Vanguard 1 was launched, the feat was greeted with considerable international derision over its size—only six inches in diameter, by far the smallest satellite in space. Premier Khrushchev spoke scornfully of how the United States was launching “grapefruit ”

Despite its size, however, Vanguard 1, technologically and scientifically, was one of the most productive satellites that has ever been launched.

It was the first to use solar cells to provide electricity to spacecraft, and it demonstrated conclusively that solar power can be a reliable, efficient source of electricity for small satellites.

In fact, the solar cells proved almost too successful, for it was belatedly realized that the satellite, with its constant transmission, could clutter up the frequencies reserved for space communications. Ever since, solarpowered satellites have contained automatic timers to shut off the transmitters after a year or so—only, most of the timers have not worked.

Intended originally as a “test vehicle” for a rocket launching that was not really expected to achieve orbit, the Vanguard 1 carried no scientific instruments, but it had three features that made it into a useful tool for observing conditions in space and on earth — its spherical shape, its stable orbit and its continuous transmissions for tracking.

By its sixth anniversary, it had orbited the earth 23,640 times and traveled 794,304,000 miles. The satellite has not deviated more than 16 miles from its original orbit with a perigee of 406 miles and an apogee of 2,463 miles.

This unusually stable orbit chiefly accounted for its scientific usefulness. In effect, it became a stable reference point in space. It became possible to observe small variations in the orbit caused by terrestial or atmospheric conditions.

By studying how small variations in the earth's gravitational field changed the satellite's orbit, scientists were able to confirm that the earth has a bigger equatorial bulge than expected and a slight pear shape around the poles. The findings provided new clues on the earth's internal structure.

With its spherical shape and light weight, Vanguard 1 was extremely sensitive to atmospheric drag. Variations in its orbit showed that the earth's atmosphere expands and contracts by day and night and also in response to solar storms and sun spots.

Vanguard 1 also came up with the surprising revelation that the pressure of sunlight can change the orbit of even so small a satellite.

Of more practical value, Army mapmakers by tracking the satellite, were able to establish the exact position—to within a few hundred feet—of many islands in the Pacific.

In its silent orbit. which will probably last for centuries, Vanguard 1 has now become a useless satellite without an official owner in the Government.

About a month ago, the Naval Research Laboratory proposed to issue an anniversary announcement about the satellite and its radio silence. The Navy's Office of Public Information declined, however, on the ground that Vanguard 1 now belonged to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

NASA, which is now preoccupied with building bigger and better satellites, took no official notice of the occasion.
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Artykuły o Project Vanguard
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