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  Early failed launches: where is the debris?

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Author Topic:   Early failed launches: where is the debris?
ASCAN1984
Member

Posts: 1004
From: County Down, Nothern Ireland
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 10-17-2009 01:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ASCAN1984   Click Here to Email ASCAN1984     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am currently re-reading the awesome book Into That Silent Sea and I read last night that Guenter Wendt said that 15 plus rockets were launched per week at the Cape back during the time prior to Mercury but after the Original 7 were selected and this made me think. What happened to all the debris from the exploding rockets? Guenter said around three out of five exploded. Surely that amount would have been too much to handle at that flight rate.

Joel Katzowitz
Member

Posts: 326
From: Marietta GA USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 10-17-2009 07:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joel Katzowitz   Click Here to Email Joel Katzowitz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can tell you that one small piece of debris is in my collection. Several years ago I saw an eBay item described as a piece of an "Atlas D booster rocket". I won the auction and got a little history to along with it. In April of 1962 a RCA Lab Tech named John Zender found some debris on Melbourne Beach and identified it as a part of an Atlas. He said he would find stuff like that all the time washed up on shore.

My chunk is triangular in shape and about 5" per side. It's several inches thick and is comprised of a light weight aluminum honeycomb center sandwiched between two sheets of some sort of phenolic or Fiberglas material. There is a very slight compound curve to the section. I believe this fragment was part of a dome shaped structure, possibly a bulkhead of some sort. Schematics of the Atlas clearly show a similar structure. I haven't been able to identify it beyond that.

MarylandSpace
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Posts: 961
From:
Registered: Aug 2002

posted 10-17-2009 01:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MarylandSpace   Click Here to Email MarylandSpace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am about 50% sure that the Space Walk of Fame museum in Titusville has/had a piece of Mercury boilerplate... maybe panel, maybe door.

This is just another good reason to be able to move to the Melbourne/Titusville/KSC area in retirement... but I can't convince my wife yet.

Has anyone been to the Space Walk of Fame or remember if they have some Mercury debris?

art540
Member

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

posted 10-17-2009 05:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There were strings of successes, strings of failures and mixed bags of successes/failures. A statement that 3 of 5 launches exploded (as a general overview) should not be taken seriously.

Joel: your debris seems to be part of the Atlas fuel tank insulation membrane mounted under the bulkhead.

As an interesting side note Atlas 109D which boosted John Glenn/MA-6 had it's insulation removed while on the pad. Just drop the sustainer engine and build a scaffold to go up into the tank and pass out pieces down the line.

GACspaceguy
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Posts: 1394
From: Guyton, GA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 10-17-2009 06:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MarylandSpace:
Has anyone been to the Space Walk of Fame or remember if they have some Mercury debris?
We were there during the launch of STS-125 in May. They have the door from Mercury capsule #4 MA-1 July 29, 1960.

Joel Katzowitz
Member

Posts: 326
From: Marietta GA USA
Registered: Dec 1999

posted 10-18-2009 07:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joel Katzowitz   Click Here to Email Joel Katzowitz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MarylandSpace:
Has anyone been to the Space Walk of Fame or remember if they have some Mercury debris?
I've been to the museum several times and in several different locations. At one point I do remember seeing a pile of Mercury spacecraft parts and pieces that were found in a junkyard somewhere after being recovered following an explosion at launch. I can't seem to find my photos, but it was not a boilerplate capsule.

Richard Easton
Member

Posts: 119
From: Winnetka, IL USA
Registered: Jun 2006

posted 10-18-2009 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Easton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The National Air and Space Museum has the Vanguard TV-3 satellite from the infamous December, 1957 failure.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-18-2009 10:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GACspaceguy:
They have the door from Mercury capsule #4 MA-1 July 29, 1960.
The remainder of the capsule is on display at the Kansas Cosmosphere.

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