A-102 (spacecraft) - Flight


In early July, a small crack in engine number six was found. This meant removing the engine, the first time that the ground crew had to do this with a Saturn rocket. It was then decided to return all eight engines to the manufacturer, which meant a job that took about ten hours because the large number of tubes, hoses and wires that connected each engine to the rocket. The replacement delayed the launch by about a fortnight, followed by another delay of several days because of Hurricanes Cleo and Dora.

Launch was on 18 September just before noon local time. The first stage burnt for 147.7 seconds, with separation 0.8 seconds later. The second stage ignited 1.7 seconds later, and the LES jettisoned at 160.2 seconds after launch. It burned until +621.1 seconds with the stage and boilerplate in a 212.66 by 226.50 km orbit.

The flight met all its objectives. The spacecraft continued to transmit telemetry for five orbits and was tracked right up until re-entry on its 59th orbit over the Indian Ocean.

The only anomalous event on the flight was the failure to recover the eight film-camera pods. They had landed downrange of the expected area, where Hurricane Gladys ruled out a continued search. However, two of the pods did wash ashore two months later. The pods were covered with barnacles, but the film inside was undamaged.

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