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Little Joe II A-002
Mission type Abort test
Operator NASA
Mission duration 7 minutes, 23.4 seconds
Distance travelled 9.99 kilometers (6.21 mi)
Apogee 15.35 kilometers (9.54 mi)
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft Apollo BP-23
Start of mission
Launch date December 8, 1964, 15:00:00 (1964-12-08UTC15Z) UTC
Rocket Little Joe II
Launch site White Sands LC-36
End of mission
Landing date December 8, 1964, 15:07:23 (1964-12-08UTC15:07:24Z) UTC

Apollo program.svg

Project Apollo
Abort Tests
Little Joe II, LC 36, White Sands, NM (NASA) Little Joe II launch pad.jpg
Little Joe II, LC 36, White Sands, NM (NASA)

A-002 was the third abort test of the Apollo spacecraft.

Apollo program Manned U.S. lunar missions from 1966–1972

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.

Launch escape system system to get the crew to safety if a rocket launch fails

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 American rocket type

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.

Boilerplate (spaceflight) spacecraft; nonfunctional craft or payload

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.

Boilerplate location

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.

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates  public domain material from websites or documents ofthe National Aeronautics and Space Administration .

NASA space-related agency of the United States government

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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Apollo command and service module spacecraft

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