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  missile falures and causes

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Author Topic:   missile falures and causes
art540
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Posts: 432
From: Orange, California USA
Registered: Sep 2006

posted 09-16-2006 04:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi gang: I am trying to determine actual causes of major missile failures circa 1956-1968. I hope to learn more than "the missile exploded or veered off course." What component actually triggered the end result? The first US lunar probe 8/17/58 exploded visually at 77 seconds but the cause was a broken turbine output shaft which allowed the turbine to overspeed and shatter the turbine casing and create chaos in the aft end of Thor 127. Any help or references would be appreciated. Includes ICBM, IRBM and space launches.
Art LeBrun

[Edited by art540 (September 18, 2006).]

micropooz
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From: Washington, DC, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

posted 09-16-2006 06:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Willy Ley's "Rockets, Missiles, and Men In Space" gives a pretty good account of the development flights of the early boosters, along with failure causes.

pokey
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Posts: 345
From: Houston, TX, USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 09-16-2006 10:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for pokey   Click Here to Email pokey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was told that there is always a potential problem of vibrations from launch feeding back into the guidance system. These vibrations make the guidance system think it's going off in a wrong direction (when it may actually be on course) and then it compensates which results in sending the vehicle off course.

Perhaps more informed people will agree with this being one reason. If not, I hope I won't send this thread too far off course.

art540
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From: Orange, California USA
Registered: Sep 2006

posted 09-18-2006 09:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I will check my Ley book again..thanks.
Vibrations should be considered as in closing/opening relays and creating short circuits. Vibrations should be be n a big
challenge on moving electrical parts.

Danno
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posted 09-18-2006 10:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Danno   Click Here to Email Danno     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I remember when I was working out at White Sands Missile range one of the old timers telling me stories about launching in the 1950s.
One story that stood out was trying to get a good shot off of what I recall was a Nike. They had over 20 launches that were all great for the first 15 seconds or so and then the vehicle would go berserk and rip itself apart. They could never find much of any of the wreckage and the telemetry wasn't helpful.
One day they found one of the steering fins and saw that the strut attaching the fin to the motor inside the vehicle was burned through. The slipstream of air found a path to the strut and would burn it through and then the vehicle would fly out of control which would destroy the airframe at those speeds.
So thay made a minor modification to divert the air around the strut and the bird flew great.

Danno
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posted 09-18-2006 10:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Danno   Click Here to Email Danno     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One other WSMR story from the 50s that was classic:
They had decided to try to use horses to navigate the desert for missile recover on one mission (sorry, I do not recall the vehicle). Before launch a team of 2 guys would go to the pad and remove the 4 bolts that held the fins to the pad. This time the crew only removed 3 of the bolts inadvertently leaving in a bolt on the Southern most fin. At ignition the vehicle pitched back and eventually tore a big chunk of it fin off and flew due South instead or the Nothern downrange direction!
The recovery crew and anyone else that had a horse took off and at dusk crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico where they eventually found a bewildered farmer in his field looking at a US rocket nosed into Mexican soil. They gave the farmer about $200 that they scraped up between themselves and dragged the rocket back across the Rio Grande avoiding an international incident.
Talk about a can-do attitude!

art540
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From: Orange, California USA
Registered: Sep 2006

posted 09-18-2006 10:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you very much for the Nike episode and how it was solved. Almost sounds familiar to a vacuum being created in Atlas and Jupiter engine compartments that drew heat into the electrical and hydraulic systems and caused failures. A look at Atlases on the ground shows an insulation blanket at the aft end with the engine nozzles proruding through. Also aluminum lines were replaced by stainlees steel in some instances. It was unfortunate that the firing stands at Edwards and static tests at Scyamore and the Cape did not reveal the vacuum effect on a accelerating missile such as Atlas.

[Edited by art540 (September 18, 2006).]

art540
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Posts: 432
From: Orange, California USA
Registered: Sep 2006

posted 09-18-2006 11:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have only heard of the V-2 incident that impacted In Mexico. Were there any others not only in Mexico but well outside the range in the United States? The forgotten bolt is a heck of a story but I wonder why the attiutde control system would nor right the missile to the vertical unless the fin damage prevented this........WSMR I am sure has a great unknown history. We know Viking but what about Redstone and Corporal incidents?

[Edited by art540 (September 18, 2006).]

art540
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Posts: 432
From: Orange, California USA
Registered: Sep 2006

posted 09-22-2006 10:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another White Sands incident involved the static firing of the first newly enlarged Viking hi-altitude research rocket. After only a few seconds Viking 8 broke away from the launch stand and flew only several moments prior to an engine cutoff signal. There was no payload or full propellant load aboard but it was the loss of one of the 14 vehicles planned for the program.

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