• Short Summary

    The forthcoming Little Joe flight from Wallops Island, Va., is the fifth and last in a series using a booster system especially designed for the Mercury test program.

  • Description

    No available shotlist


    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    The forthcoming Little Joe flight from Wallops Island, Va., is the fifth and last in a series using a booster system especially designed for the Mercury test program.

    The purpose of this flight is to subject a production-line Mercury spacecraft to the most severe conditions that might be expected in an abort on an Atlas-boosted orbital launch. The Mercury escaped and other systems must function during and after escape under a combination of dynamic pressures that very nearly duplicate the most severe conditions that a Mercury spacecraft might encounter as it leaves the earth's atmosphere.

    Another objective of the test is to demonstrate the flight characteristics of the Mercury spacecraft in an escape maneuver.

    The spacecraft will be launched on a nominal flight path angle of about 83 degrees. After about 35 seconds of flight, a pressure-sensing device will begin the escape sequence. At an altitude of about 35,000 feet, the escape motor will be fired. At this point maximum forces are exerted on the spacecraft. The spacecraft glides to a peak altitude of about 48,000 feet about a minute after lift-off.

    Next, the escape tower will be jettisoned and 22 takes seconds later, a drogue parachute will be deployed. This takes place at about 42,000. At 10,000 -- about three minutes after initial launch -- the main parachute will be opened.

    The total time elapsed from launch to landing is expected to be about eight and a half minutes. If there is little or no wind, and the flight path and performance of the escape systems are normal, the spacecraft will land about seven and a half statute miles from the launch site.

    Instrumentation for the Mercury spacecraft for the Little Joe Five flight includes telemetry, onboard tape recorders, onboard cameras, radar tracking, ground and airborne tracking cameras, and a microphone and amplifier for sound level pickup. The spacecraft telemetry system has provisions for transmitting 90 quantities of commutated information over one channel and three channels for continuous flow of information.

    Test director for Little Joe Five is R. T. Dufy and Project Managers are William M. Poland, Jr. and Leo T. Chauvin. Spacecraft and project engineer is Lewis R. Fisher.

    The Little Joe booster used in today's test is the fifth of its kind to be launched in the NASA's Project Mercury flight test program.

    This vehicle is normally made up of four solid-propellant Castor rockets and four small Recruit rockets clustered within an airframe. However, for this test, two of the Castors have not been included and ballast will be carried in their place.

    The Little Joe approximately 40,000 pounds at launch and measures about 25 feet in length without the spacecraft. It is about six and one-half feet in diameter.

    Total thrust of the booster used in today's test is 250,000 pounds. This Little Joe will be used as a single-stage vehicle, that is, all rockets will be ignited at launch. The booster is expected to lift to an altitude of approximately 35,000 feet before the spacecraft is to be separated.

    The booster is unguided and is stabilized by four large tail fins.

    The Little Joe airframe was manufactured by North American Aviation and the rockets were produced by Thiokol Chemical Corporation.

    The Little Joe booster system was conceived by engineers and scientists of the Langley Research Center early in 1958, just prior to the establishment of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

    Langley scientists and engineers, realizing that manned space flight development would require a relatively simple and inexpensive launch vehicle for research and development tests, came up with the Little Joe concept. It was designed specifically for Mercury spacecraft research and development.

    The system, using much existing proven equipment, required minimum ground support and turned out to be extremely reliable. All four previous launches were successful.

    The Mercury spacecraft escape tower, and parachute components used in Project Mercury test Little Joe Five, will be retrieved by a recovery force reporting to Rear Admiral F. V. H. Hilles, consisting of units of the Service Force and the Fleet Marine Force.

    The on-scene officer in tactical command of the recovery units for Little Joe Five is LCDR Thomas F. Byrnes, Jr., commanding officer of the USS Opportune - ARS-41. The Opportune, a Navy salvage and rescue vessel, participated in earlier Little Joe tests.

    The Air recovery element consists of three Marine HUS helicopters from Marine Aircraft Group 26, which is commanded by Col Paul T. Johnston, USMC. Units of Marine Aircraft Group 26 recovered the Little Joe 1B boiler plate capsule which carried "Miss Sam," a Rhesus monkey.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    Media URN:
    Reuters - Including Visnews
    Issue Date:
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Black & White
    Time in/Out:

Comments (0)

We always welcome comments and more information about our films.
All posts are reactively checked. Libellous and abusive comments are forbidden.

Add your comment