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Postflight Evaluation of Atlas-Centaur AC-5 (Launched 2 March 1965)The Atlas-Centaur AC-5 vehicle was launched from ETR Complex 36A on March 2., 1965 at 8:25.04 a.m. EST. Within about 1 second after launch the thrust of the Atlas booster engine decayed rapidly; the vehicle settled back on the launch pad and was quickly destroyed by fire and explosion. Considerable damage was sustained by the launch complex and its associated equipment. Loss of booster engine thrust was due to fuel depletion at the turbopump inlets, which is attributed to closure of the fuel prevalve or the staging valve. To preclude the recurrence of either of these fuel valving malfunctions, the following corrective action has been taken: The remote control actuator has been replaced by manual operation of the Atlas fuel prevalve; the internal passage dimensions in the staging valve have been increased to lessen the hydraulic load on the valve poppet. In addition to the Atlas fuel system malfunction, a failure in the power control circuitry of the Centaur guidance computer resulted in partial removal of power at umbilical ejection. To prevent such a guidance system failure on future flights some redundant circuitry has been eliminated and more rigorous checkout procedures have been adopted. No further anomalies were discovered in the telemetered data prior to the Atlas booster thrust decay. A prime objective of the AC-5 flight was to place a dynamic model of the Surveyor spacecraft in a simulated lunar transfer trajectory. An important facet of this problem is the demonstration of a launch-on-time capability in accordance with the proper Earth-moon relation. The window opening time was established at 8:25 a.m. EST; thus the actual launch occurred within 4 seconds of the planned time.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Glenn Research Center
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Date Acquired
August 8, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1965
Subject Category
Launch Vehicles And Launch Operations
Report/Patent Number
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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