Little Joe II A-002
|Mission type||Abort test|
|Mission duration||7 minutes, 23.4 seconds|
|Distance travelled||9.99 kilometers (6.21 mi)|
|Apogee||15.35 kilometers (9.54 mi)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||December 8, 1964, 15:00:00 UTC|
|Rocket||Little Joe II|
|Launch site||White Sands LC-36|
|End of mission|
|Landing date||December 8, 1964, 15:07:23 UTC|
A-002 was the third abort test of the Apollo spacecraft.
The Apollo program, also known as Project Apollo, was the third United States human spaceflight program carried out by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which succeeded in landing the first humans on the Moon from 1969 to 1972. First conceived during Dwight D. Eisenhower's administration as a three-man spacecraft to follow the one-man Project Mercury which put the first Americans in space, Apollo was later dedicated to President John F. Kennedy's national goal of "landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth" by the end of the 1960s, which he proposed in an address to Congress on May 25, 1961. It was the third US human spaceflight program to fly, preceded by the two-man Project Gemini conceived in 1961 to extend spaceflight capability in support of Apollo.
Mission A-002 was the third in the series of abort tests to demonstrate that the launch system would perform satisfactorily under selected critical abort conditions. The main objective of this mission was to demonstrate the abort capability of the launch escape vehicle in the maximum dynamic pressure region of the Saturn trajectory with conditions approximating the altitude limit at which the Saturn emergency detection system would signal an abort.
A launch escape system (LES) or launch abort system (LAS) is a crew safety system connected to a space capsule, used to quickly separate the capsule from its launch vehicle rocket in case of a launch abort emergency, such as an impending explosion. Such systems are usually of two types:
The launch vehicle was the third in the Little Joe II series. This vehicle differed from the previous two in that flight controls and instrumentation were incorporated, and the vehicle was powered by two Algol and four Recruit rocket motors. The launch escape system was also changed from previous configurations in that canards (forward control surfaces used to orient and stabilize the escape vehicle in the entry attitude) and a command module boost protective cover were incorporated. The Apollo spacecraft was simulated by a boilerplate command and service module (BP-23). The earth landing system was modified from the previous configuration by the installation of modified dual-drogue parachutes instead of a single-drogue parachute.
Little Joe II was an American rocket used from 1963–1966 for five unmanned tests of the Apollo spacecraft launch escape system (LES), and to verify the performance of the command module parachute recovery system in abort mode. It was named after a similar rocket designed for the same function in Project Mercury. Launched from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, it was the smallest of four launch rockets used in the Apollo program.
A boilerplate spacecraft, also known as a mass simulator, is a nonfunctional craft or payload that is used to test various configurations and basic size, load, and handling characteristics of rocket launch vehicles. It is far less expensive to build multiple, full-scale, non-functional boilerplate spacecraft than it is to develop the full system. In this way, boilerplate spacecraft allow components and aspects of cutting-edge aerospace projects to be tested while detailed contracts for the final project are being negotiated. These tests may be used to develop procedures for mating a spacecraft to its launch vehicle, emergency access and egress, maintenance support activities, and various transportation processes.
The A-002 vehicle was launched on December 8, 1964, at 08:00:00 a.m. M.S.T. (15:00:00 UTC) by igniting all launch vehicle motors simultaneously. Conditions at abort initiation were selected from Saturn boost trajectories, and a nominal test point was used for the maximum dynamic pressure region. A pitch up maneuver and the abort were initiated by using a real-time plot of the dynamic pressure versus Mach number. However, an improper constant was used in the meteorological data input to the real-time data system, resulting in the pitch up maneuver being initiated 2.4 seconds early. Although the planned test point was not achieved, the early pitch up caused a higher maximum dynamic pressure than the design value.
Canard deployment took place as expected 11.1 seconds after abort initiation. The launch escape vehicle tumbled four times before stabilizing with the aft heat shield forward. During the first turnaround, the soft portion of the boost protective cover was torn away from the command module. Maximum altitude attained by the launch escape vehicle was 50,360 feet (15,350 m) above mean sea level.
Baro-switches initiated the earth landing sequence at an altitude of approximately 23,500 feet (7,163 m) above mean sea level. All parachutes deployed properly and the command module, supported by the three main parachutes, descended at the planned rate of about 24 ft/s (7 m/s) to an earth landing 32,800 feet (10 km) down range.
The abort conditions obtained were more than adequate in verifying the abort capability in the maximum dynamic pressure region. Only one test objective was not achieved: the boost protective cover was structurally inadequate for the environment experienced during the mission.
BP-23 was refurbished as BP-23A and used for Launch Pad Abort Test 2. BP-23A is on display as part of the SA-500D Saturn V exhibit at the US Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.
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Pad Abort Test 1 was the first abort test of the Apollo spacecraft on November 7, 1963.
The Apollo spacecraft was composed of three parts designed to accomplish the American Apollo program's goal of landing astronauts on the Moon by the end of the 1960s and returning them safely to Earth. The expendable (single-use) spacecraft consisted of a combined command and service module (CSM) and a lunar module (LM). Two additional components complemented the spacecraft stack for space vehicle assembly: a spacecraft–LM adapter (SLA) designed to shield the LM from the aerodynamic stress of launch and to connect the CSM to the Saturn launch vehicle; and a launch escape system (LES) to carry the crew in the command module safely away from the launch vehicle in the event of a launch emergency.
The Apollo command and service module (CSM) was one of two principal components of the United States Apollo spacecraft, used for the Apollo program, which landed astronauts on the Moon between 1969 and 1972. The CSM functioned as a mother ship, which carried a crew of three astronauts and the second Apollo spacecraft, the lunar module, to lunar orbit, and brought the astronauts back to Earth. It consisted of two parts: the conical command module, a cabin that housed the crew and carried equipment needed for atmospheric reentry and splashdown; and the cylindrical service module which provided propulsion, electrical power and storage for various consumables required during a mission. An umbilical connection transferred power and consumables between the two modules. Just before reentry of the command module on the return home, the umbilical connection was severed and the service module was cast off and allowed to burn up in the atmosphere.
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