Saturday, November 29, 2014

Retro Saturday: Project Centaur Report January-June 1965


Click the arrow to watch the film. Video source: sdasmarchives YouTube channel.

If you like watching rockets blow up, this film is for you.

The Atlas-Centaur was a General Dynamics Convair Division Atlas booster topped with a Centaur upper stage developed by the same company. The Centaur would be used to propel payloads into orbit and beyond.

Launch Complex 36 at today's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was built specifically for the Atlas-Centaur. Pad 36A was completed by the U.S. Air Force, then the complex was transferred to NASA which essentially completed Pad 36B but left it inactive. NASA intended to use Atlas-Centaur for the Surveyor program that would place robotic vehicles on the Moon to test landing procedures for the astronauts that would follow by the end of the 1960s.

Pad 36B would come in handy when the Atlas-Centaur AC-5 test launch on March 2, 1965 blew up two seconds after liftoff. While 36A was being repaired, NASA activated 36B to continue the program.

This week's Retro Saturday film is a semi-annual report on the Atlas-Centaur program for NASA by General Dynamics. It begins with the AC-5 explosion and the investigation. The footage might remind you of the Orbital Sciences Antares explosion on October 28, 2014 at NASA Wallops.

If you're familiar with CCAFS today, you can see glimpses of locations that no longer exist, such as the old house once at the lighthouse site.

LC-36 was last used for a launch in 2005. The service towers were demolished in 2007. The complex today is leased to Space Florida which hopes to lease the pads to commercial launch companies.

The General Dynamics Convair Division was sold in 1994 to McDonnell Douglas and Lockheed. Its Atlas-Centaur film collection was donated by Lockheed Martin and United Launch Alliance to the San Diego Air and Space Museum, which posted it on YouTube. The audio is fairly poor due to the original condition as uploaded by SDASM.

No comments:

Post a Comment