Thor DSV-2U

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Thor DSV-2U

Thor DSV-2U launch with DMSP-5D-F5 satellite.jpg

Launch of the last Thor DSV-2U carrying DMSP-5D1 F5
Function Expendable launch system
Country of origin United States
Launch history
Status Retired
Launch sites Vandenberg SLC-10W
Total launches 5
Successes 4
Failures 1
First flight 1976-09-11
Last flight 1980-07-15

The Thor DSV-2U or Thor LV-2F Star-37XE Star-37S-ISS was an American expendable launch system used to launch five DMSP weather satellites between 1976 and 1980. It was a member of the Thor family of rockets, and a derivative of the Thor DSV-2.

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.

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).

Weather satellite type of satellite

The weather satellite is a type of satellite that is primarily used to monitor the weather and climate of the Earth. Satellites can be polar orbiting, covering the entire Earth asynchronously, or geostationary, hovering over the same spot on the equator.

The first stage was a Thor missile in the DM-19 configuration. A Star-37XE was used as the second stage, and the third stage was a Star-37S-ISS. All five launches were conducted from Space Launch Complex 10W at the Vandenberg Air Force Base. The final launch on July 14, 1980 of a DMSP 5D satellite failed.

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.

Vandenberg AFB Space Launch Complex 10 military space launch facility in California, USA

Space Launch Complex 10, or Missile Launch Complex 10, is located on Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, California. It was built in 1958 to test ballistic missiles and developed into a space launching facility in 1963. Prior to 1966 Space Launch Complex 10 West was known as Vandenberg AFB Pad 75-2-6. It remains a rare pristine look at the electronics and facilities created in that era that helped the United States grow its space capabilities.

Vandenberg Air Force Base census-designated place in California, United States

Vandenberg Air Force Base is a United States Air Force Base 9.2 miles (14.8 km) northwest of Lompoc, California. It is under the jurisdiction of the 30th Space Wing, Air Force Space Command (AFSPC).

Thor boosters launched from SLC-10W used an erector system to hoist them up to the pad. While common on Soviet launch vehicles, this method was unusual in the US space program. Thor 304 had been erected on the pad a few weeks before launch, and during this step, a connecting pin in the erector broke and sent the rocket falling back down to ground level. Launch crews examined the Thor for damage, but could not find any outward indication of it. The booster passed routine preflight systems checks and liftoff took place at 6:22 PM PST on July 14. Shortly after liftoff, the Thor's telemetry system failed, but weather conditions and visibility were excellent, and the booster could be tracked visually for over two minutes. Telemetry from the DMSP satellite indicated that it was operating properly. SECO took place on time, as did the second stage burn. Third stage burn began, and then after about four seconds, all telemetry abruptly ceased. The initial assumption was that the third stage exploded, and initial Air Force press releases about the launch stated such. However, radar tracking showed that the third stage motor continued operating as it drove the DMSP into the Pacific Ocean. The investigation board concluded that connectors in the electrical interface between the second and third stage had been jolted loose by the erector mishap several weeks earlier. After second stage burnout, staging failed to take place due to the misaligned connectors, and the third stage motor thus fired with the spent second stage still attached to it. The force from the third stage motor burning managed to tear the second stage free, but in doing so, it ripped out wiring in the base of the third stage, which shorted out the guidance computer and caused it to direct the stage and spacecraft down into the ocean. Much like the DMSP failure in 1976, the incident was attributed to poor program management. [1]

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References

The Encyclopedia Astronautica is a reference web site on space travel. A comprehensive catalog of vehicles, technology, astronauts, and flights, it includes information from most countries that have had an active rocket research program, from Robert Goddard to the NASA Space shuttle to the Soviet Shuttle Buran.