Thor-Burner

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Thor-Burner

Thor-Burner.jpg

Thor-Burner rocket
Function Expendable launch system
Manufacturer Douglas
Country of origin United States
Size
Height 23m (75 ft)
Diameter 2.44m (8 ft)
Mass 50,000kg (110,000 lb)
Stages 2-3
Launch history
Status Retired
Launch sites Vandenberg AFB, LC-4300, LE-6, SLC-10W
Total launches 24
Successes 22
Failures 2
First flight 20 May 1965
Last flight 19 February 1976

The Thor-Burner was an American expendable launch system, a member of the Thor rocket family. It consisted of a Thor missile, with one or two Burner upper stages. It was used between 1965 and 1976 to orbit a number of satellites, most commonly Defense Meteorological Satellite Program weather satellites. Twenty-four were launched, of which two failed. Each launch cost 11.890 million 1985 US Dollars. It weighed 51,810 kg and was 24 metres tall.

Expendable launch system launch system that uses an expendable launch vehicle

An expendable launch vehicle (ELV) is a launch system or launch vehicle stage that is used only once to carry a payload into space. Historically, satellites and human spacecraft were launched mainly using expendable launchers. ELV advantages include cost savings through mass production, and a greater payload fraction.

Thor (rocket family) American rocket family

Thor was an American space launch vehicle derived from the PGM-17 Thor intermediate-range ballistic missile. The Thor rocket was the first in a large family of space launch vehicles that came to be known as Delta. The last derivative of the Thor was retired in 2018, which was the first stage of the Delta II.

PGM-17 Thor first operational ballistic missile deployed by the U.S. Air Force

Thor was the first operational ballistic missile deployed by the U.S. Air Force (USAF). Named after the Norse god of thunder, it was deployed in the United Kingdom between 1959 and September 1963 as an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) with thermonuclear warheads. Thor was 65 feet (20 m) in height and 8 feet (2.4 m) in diameter. It was later augmented in the U.S. IRBM arsenal by the Jupiter.

Contents

Burner 1 and Altair

The Burner 1 stage was an Altair rocket stage as used for the third stage of some Vanguard launch vehicles, but equipped by Boeing with 3-axis control. [1]

Altair (rocket stage) Solid-fuel rocket

The Altair was a solid-fuel rocket with a fiberglass casing, initially developed for use as the third stage of Vanguard rockets. It was manufactured by Allegany Ballistics Laboratory (ABL) as the X-248. It was also sometimes called the Burner 1.

The Vanguard rocket was intended to be the first launch vehicle the United States would use to place a satellite into orbit. Instead, the Sputnik crisis caused by the surprise launch of Sputnik 1 led the U.S., after the failure of Vanguard TV3, to quickly orbit the Explorer 1 satellite using a Juno I rocket, making Vanguard I the second successful U.S. orbital launch.

Boeing Aerospace and defense manufacturer in the United States

The Boeing Company is an American multinational corporation that designs, manufactures, and sells airplanes, rotorcraft, rockets, satellites, and missiles worldwide. The company also provides leasing and product support services. Boeing is among the largest global aircraft manufacturers; it is the fifth-largest defense contractor in the world based on 2017 revenue, and is the largest exporter in the United States by dollar value. Boeing stock is included in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

This combination was used for six vehicles. The first was launched 1965-01-18 and the sixth 1966-03-30. These were early launches of classified Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellites. One of these launches failed. [2]

Defense Meteorological Satellite Program

The Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) monitors meteorological, oceanographic, and solar-terrestrial physics for the United States Department of Defense. The program is managed by the Air Force Space Command with on-orbit operations provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The mission of the satellites was revealed in March 1973. They provide cloud cover imagery from polar orbits that are Sun-synchronous at nominal altitude of 450 nautical miles (830 km).

On February 19, 1976, the attempted launch of a DMSP satellite from Vandenberg's SLC-10W went awry when SECO occurred 5 seconds early. Although the second stage separated and fired properly, the satellite was left in an unusable orbit from which it decayed only one hour after launch. Investigation into the mishap found that the Thor had been loaded an insufficient amount of RJ-1 (a higher grade of kerosene fuel that offered enhanced performance over standard RP-1) for the mission. The amount of LOX on Thor boosters was always the same on every launch, but the amount of kerosene could vary depending on the engine, as different LR-79 engines had slightly different performance levels, and so factory acceptance data was used to determine the fuel load needed for a particular unit. The particular engine used in Thor 182 had thus been loaded with kerosene according to the data sheet provided by Rocketdyne, however the information contained a typo which led to ground crews loading too little propellant for it. However, the postflight investigation also found that, even if the correct propellant load had been carried, the mission would have still failed because the Thor did not have sufficient performance to loft the DMSP into the required orbit. As the DMSP program evolved, the satellites gradually became heavier and more complex. Program planners, aware of this, selected an LR-79 engine which had particularly high performance, but it still turned out to not be enough for the mission. The failure was thus ultimately attributed to poor mission planning. [3]

Burner 2

The Burner 2 used with the Thor-Burner was the first solid fuel upper-stage vehicle used for general space applications that had full control and guidance capability. The first Burner II flight was on 1966-09-15. [4]

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