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NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION 400 MARYLAND AVENUE, SW, WASHINGTON 25, D.C. TELEPHONES WORTH 2-4155--WORTH 3- 1110
April 3, 3962
FIRST L'AUNCIIH OF CENTAUR
The first Centaur launch vehicle will be test flown in the next several days by the National. Aeronaut:ics and Space Administration. The rocket wi:.ll be launched over a medium range ballistic trajectory from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in a preliminary to.-t to provide a broad range of information needed for the further development and orbital testing of the system.
This will be the first U. S. attempt to launch a vehicle
that uses high-energy liquid hydrogen fuel. The upper stage of Centaur is powered by two RL-10 liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engines, each developing 15,000 pounds of thrust. Hydrogen offers more pounds of thrust per pound of propellant consumed per second than any other fuel possible in chemical rockets. It provides approximately 4oo per cent more thrust per pound of propellant flowr per second than hydrocarbons such a.s kerosene which are used in some of' the conventional rocket engines. Centaur makes it possible for the U. S. to launch spacecraft of much greater size and weight then ever before. The Centaur is being developed by General Dynamics/ Astronautics under the technical. direction of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. Centaur stage rocket engines are produced by Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Division of United Aircraft Corporation and Rocketdyne Division of North American Aviation produces the rockets for the Atlas booster. Launching will be under the direction of NASA'As Launch Operations Center.
In this first test, the Centaur will be launched over a trajectory of about 1,175 miles in range and 300 miles in altitude. The flight will take about 15 minutes. .-1 (over)
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The veli-lcie ':1ill be Ilavi ly and unil.qi ily instrumented to provide mrc:i mom I.nformat i on on the perfomrance of both stages and the behavior of 1 i arl d hydrogen in a gravity.free statc. This:; i.s in proparation for J.atcr research and devel.oprment Cl.irghts, .in ih-ich ear;th orbits or flights into deep ;space wi1.1 be the goal. About 5410 channels of' information will be radioed from the rocket during flight, a record in U.S. rocketry. Four hundred of them wrill be on the operation of the Centaur second stage alone. The first known attempt Twill be made to receive and record te)evizsion imaglee; of an internal veh:I.cle function--a mrnall camera wrill be mounted on the forwarl bulkhead of the second stage hydrogen tank to observe hydrogen's reaction to zero gravity. The hydrogen tank will be filled to about 40 per cent capacity, which will be the approximate load level present at the beginning of the second burning period in later -flights. Although second-stage engine operatio.n is not a primary objective of this test, the engines are programmed to ignite and burn for a short period during the vehicle's descent into the atmosphere. FLIGHT OBJECTIVES Major test objectives are as follows: 1. Prove the design and function of the Centaur Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral, a multimillion dollar facility which is being used for the first time. 2. Demonstrate the structural strength of the vehicle to withstand the loads created during first stage powered flight through the atmosphere. Measurements rill be radioed to ground stations. 3., Study the behavior of liquid hydrogen under zero gravity conditions. Of special interest will be the behavior of the fluid daring steering naneuvers and coasting, as well as propellant settling prior to ignition of the engines. 4. Function of mechanisms which separate the two stages. First stage retrorockets and second stage ullage engines will separate the two units.
5. The four insulation panels providing thermal protection to the second stage hydrogen tank during ascent through the atmosphere are to be jettisoned on command from the first stage autopilot during the powered flight of the Atlas. The sequence is being studied to verify the operation of the explosive bolts and separation springs. 6. A principal objective is to prove the ability of the second stage autopilot to issue proper commands during reorientation, main-powered and coast phases. During coast period, the second stage is oriented so that sun rays strike the rear insulated bulkhead to lessen hydrogen boil-off during the extended coasts. Prior to engine ignition, the vehicle must reassume proper flight attitude. The autopilot provides sequencing commands, executes guidance commands, and maintains vehicle stabilization. 7. Other flight objectives include demonstration in flight of Centaur's all-inertial guidance system; the measurement of thermal environment and acceleration forces in the payload area; determining satisfactory performance of the telemetry system; evaluating beacon tracking performance and the study of skin temperatures on both stages. 8. The two RL-lO engines will be put through their start cycle" during the coast phase after staging. The cycle will be completed except that the engines will not be ignited at that point. After other objectives have been met and the vehicle has been reoriented to a reentry position, the engine's start cycle will be repeated initiating a short burning period. FLIGHT SEQUENCE The first stage portion of the Centaur flight is very similar to that of a normal Atlas rocket. The booster's three main engines and two verniers will be ignited on the pad and the rocket will be released following a brief' holddown in which the proper burning condition is reached by the booster powerplant. After about 15 seconds of flight, the tilting of the vehicle will begin. The booster powerplant operates for more than two minutes, then the two main engines are dropped. The sustainer engine continues to provide thrust and the first stage power ends after about 42 minutes. About midway in this period, the four insulating panels surrounding the upper stage hydrogen tank will be jettisoned. The insulation serves to keep liquid hydrogen boiloff at an acceptable level while on the pad and during the peak aerodynamic heating of ascent. The nose cone fairing, which would protect a payload from aerodynamic heating, is jettisoned about a minute before seperation of stages. 1-3 (OVER)
Approximately at the time of Atlas sustainer cutoff-about 42 minutes--the second stare enng:lnes will enter a start cycle. The cycle will be conplcted, except for actual ignition. Shortly after separation of the two stages, the second stage orientation to the sun will begin. This occurs about five minutes after liftoff. The engine end of the stage will be so oriented that the sun will snine directly on it, sparing the now uninsulated hydrogen tank sidewalls from the sun radiation which would evaporate the hydrogen fuel at an unacceptably fast rate. About six minutes later, or 11 minutes after liftoff. the second stage will begin reorienting to the proper attitude for the firing of the engines and reentry. The engine start cycle will again be repeated, with ignition occurring at about 13 minutes after liftoff. At this point the vehicle will be descending to earth at about 140 miles altitude. The two engines are programmed to burn for about 25 seconds. The vehcile will impact about 15 minutes after liftoff in the Sargasso Sea. INSTRUMENTATION Of the 540 channels of data to be radioed from the Centaur, 400 are devoted to the upper stage. The 140 booster measurements are primarily to record the normal functions of engines and guidance system, plus standard vibration, bending and temperature measurements. A majority of the instrumentation in the top stage will gather data on engine sequencing, autopilot operation and the reaction of a partial tank of hydrogen without the influence of gravity. There are two outstanding features of upper stage
instrumentation, a so-called "Christmas tree' which is installed in the hydrogen tank, and a television camera mounted at the top of the tank to monitor hydrogen reaction. The "tree" is a metal skeleton extending the length of the tank to which many sensors are attached which will indicate the movements of the fuel. Each limb is equipped with sensors which will detect the presence of liquid hydrogen. The fuel tank will carry only 40 per cent of its normal volume. A steel ballast plate is mounted in the forward end to compensate in weight for the fuel shortage. 1-I;
The small, cylindrical TV camera is mounted in the center of the forward hydrogen tank bulkhead. It will take a picture every trio seconds. The resulting signal will be transmitted to ground stations, recorded on tape and reconverted to television pictures. A kinescope will display the reconverted pictures for recording by a motion picture camera to allow a more thorough study of the tank's interior. Providing light for the camera will be a 100,000 watt strobe-light, which is activated a fraction of a second for eaca exposure and thus uses a minute amount of electricity. This is thought to be the first use of television for observation of an internal function in a rocket. 1-5
CENTAUR BACKGROUND AND VEHICLE FACT SHEET
The Centaur project was initiated in late 1958 by the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense. On July 1, 1959, the program was transferred to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. One year later, NASA technical direction of the project was assigned to the Marshall Space Flight Center. Centaur's first assigned mission was one of the most difficult missions--insertion of an active communications satellite into an equatorial, stationary or 24-hour orbit at an altitute of 22,300 miles. This required a capability for long coast periods and multiple starts. As a result, Centaur is a versatile vehicle capable of performing many difficult space assignments. The upper stage will have the capability of two engine starts and the ability to coast in a parking orbit between first and second burns. At present, research and development flights are scheduled for Centaur extending through 1963. Later flights will launch a variety of spacecraft--the Department of Defense's Advent communications satellite and NASA's Mariner interplanetary probes and Surveyor lunar-soft landing craft. Centaur will place some 8,500 pounds into a low earth orbit, send some 2,300 pounds on an escape trajectory to tr. moon, or about 1,300 pounds to Venus and Mars. The vehicle stands about 105 feet, is ten feet in diameter, and weighs about 300,000 pounds at liftoff.
The Centaur first stage is a standard Series D Atlas space booster similar to that used for Mercury and Agena projects, except that the pointed nose has been eliminated, To accommodate the second stage, the forwarc, conical section of the liquid oxygen tank has been enlarged to a constant 10-foot diameter. A new 10-foot diameter interstage adapter and separation system have been added. Two booster engines and one sustainer engine are powered by liquid oxygen and kerosene. The engines are produced by the Rocketdyne Division of North American Aviation. 2-1 (OVER)
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The stage is approximac 4y 60 f'eec in heighnt, r; is aaded tLhe 23-foot Jntersvage aciapuer £ ormea of .ilu, Fuieled, the urnit weighs some 260,000 pcunds. SECOI!D STAGE
ifn n The second stage of tl;ht Cnrtaur is about 412 e length and 10 feet In d ameter. Tne weight of' the -- g fueled, is about $2,000 povndsn, plus s;-veral riuncred pounds of' irnsulationr which i .etzisoned early in fiighz . T.he forward tank, much thc b-.gger of the two, can h:,; o; 'ut 4,800 pounds of hydrogen.
age is miucn .;-ik tine upper tU Tne basic constr1uc . ' 'ri that of the Atlas--80 per crnu of tne Atlas tooinrig waas used Most of' the ' nrew" elements in the develOpIn this program. ment orogram relate to the pioneering use of hydrogen f'uel. A rapid 1oss co hydrogen by boiloff' requires insuatl.un of the hydrogen tank.through launch preparations anrd the early phase of' the ascent where aerodynamic heating is at4 its peak. This Is accomplished by four quarter panelP of inrsulationr which surround the upper stage from the nose cone fei.rring L 5,t The panel.s are st to the inLerstage separation poont. of an inch thicic, consisVing of two fiberglass faces ene DSThe oarneli are ing a foam in which fiberglass is embedded. held in place by spring-loaded tenuion straps and :- cvcured by explosive bolts which are blown by programmer conrmarnd slightly after the midpoint of first stage powered f'light-The pane.l-s, just before the vehicle leaves the atmosphere. restr-ained at their bottom edges, fold ov.u into the afrstream from their forward ends and are peeled awiay. A nose fa: ring wlil protect against aerodynamic heating during early phases of the ascent and control the teat transfer between the nose secticn and che super-cold hydroger. fuel. Mounted on -he forward hydrogen buikhead beneath th-t f CaJr-Ing will be the payload guidance and electronic packages. The fairing consists of two half sections and a cap. Tt stands 18 feet high and has a 10-foot ciameter at the Total base where it loins the body (if thE upper srtage. It must withstand pressure up cc 750 pounds. weight is nearly 1,000 pounds per square foot, and -emperat-ures un to 1,200 degrees F, WThen, about three niT.rnvces af'er 1 £@toL'f, the signal is gitven to jettison the ccre, explosive bo;.tzrelease the halves and two mZmall nitrogen bot-Ller, f'crc?: th&! away from the vehicle.
A major insulation problem is the common bulkhead between the hydrogen tank (-423 degrees F) and the relatively "hot" liquid oxygen tank (-297 degrees F). This is formed of two very thin steel bulkheads one quarter of an inch apart. The space between is filled with iatted fiberglass. Hydrogen boiloff during the extended coast periods is controlled by keeping the second stage's tail pointed directly toward the sun, thus avoiding the exposure of the hydrogen tank to the sun's rays. The liquid oxygen tank bulkhead to which the engines are affixed has a fiberglass radiation shielf. During coast phases, the engine end is oriented to the sun through the use of sun seekers, attached to the aft oxygen tank bulkhead, and an attitude control system which employs six small hydrogen-peroxide control rockets to move the vehicle to the proper position with respect to the sun, once the sensors have detected the sun's location. The second stage also has four larger hydrogen peroxide rockets, each developing 50 pounds of thrust, which, fired
just before ignition of tne main engines, provide accelera,
tion to concentrate the floating fuel at the base of tankage
M for engine intake purposes.
In addICtion to conserving hydrogen, the sun-orientation of the stage serves the purpose of keeping the engines warm during coast periods. The engines must be relatively warm at the beginning of the engine start sequence--the heat present causes the initial volume of liquid hydrogen circulating through the engines to convert to gaseous hydrogen, which is used to drive the fuel and oxidizer pumps. Once the process is begun, heat from the engine operation continues it in a so-called "bootstrap cycle." GUIDANCE Centaur is controlled in flight by an all-inertial (self-contained) guidance system. It was designed to accomplish the difficult mission of establishing a 24-hour ir stationary equatorial orbit. It -ill be able to perform a number of less demanding missions with little or no alteration. The inertial guidance system consists primarily of a four-gimbal platform stabilized by three gyros, plus a general purpose digital computer. The computer is a box 8 inches by 13 inches which weighs 62 pounds. It has a membry drum with a 2,560word capacity. It can handle 3,000 additions, 1,600 subtractions, 228 divisions or 236 multiplications per second. 2-3 (OVER)
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THE RL-10 ENGINE AND LIQUID HYDROGEN TECHNOLOGY The RL-10 engine, two of which are used to power the second stage of the Centaur launch vehicle, employs liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen as propellants. It is the first such high-energy engine developed in the U. S. for space vehicle application. This first flight test of the engine, which develops 15,000 pounds of thrust, follows a three-year period in which the engine was designed, developed and successfully tested hundreds of times by Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Division of United Aircraft Corp. at West Palm Beach, Florida. The RL-10 is being developed for the NASA Centaur and Saturn vehicles under the technical supervision of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama. In the Saturn program, six engines provide propulsion for the second stage of the Saturn C-1 vehicle. An entirely new technology has evolved in the development of hydrogen engines. Liquid hydrogen in its natural form is a gas--it liquefies when cooled to minus 423 degrees F. Its atom is the lightest known. Hydrogen-oxygen rocket engines provide a specific impulse more than 40 per cent higher than engines using conventional fuels. Specific impulses is the measure of an engine's effiotency in producing thrust--the amount of thrust in pounds per pound of fuel consumed per second. Although liquid hydrogen requires increased tank volume because of its lightness, its performance has brought the fuel into prominence as a space vehicle propellant. Less than seven months from the beginning date of the RL-lO contract in 1958, the Pratt & Whitney testing facility for the RL-10 was operational and the first engine thrust chamber was actually tested. The RL-10 engine has now been tested more than 700 times for an accumulated firing time in excess of 60,000 seconds. Outwardly, the RL-10 resembles other rocket engines. Internally, the engine contains many advances in the state of the art in engine design, among them the method by which it obtains multiple utilization from its fuel. Most rocket engine designs require gas generators burning propellants to drive the pumps which move the main body oz propellants to the thrust chamber. The RL-10 eliminates this cycle. This is how the RL-10 works-3-1 (OVER)
The liquid hydrogen enters the cooling jacket surroundings The hydrogen burning with oxygerlI the thrust chamber at -423 0 F. inside the chamber is at 6000 0 F. The hydrogen in the jacket cools the engine while it itself becomes sufficiently heated to convert to a gas, the temperature of which is still more than 100 degrees below zero. This hydrogen is then expanded in a turbine which furnishes power to pump more liquid hydrogen into the combustion chamber. The turbine also furnishes power to pump the liquid oxygen. Thus the cold hydrogen plays two roles before it is burned. It cools the thrust chamber and drives the pumps in a so-called "boot strap" system. It is burned only in the thrust chamber where it produces useful thrust. The engine was designed to provide a capability of restarts in space, with long coast periods between firings. The problems associated with maintaining a conventional lubrication system under conditions of coasting made it desirable to eliminate oil lubrication in the gearbox. The gears and bearings In the turbopurps of the RL-lO were developed to operate dry with hydrogen cooling. The RL-l0 has a nozzle expansion ratio of '40 to one-meaning the area at the exhaust end of the thrust chamber is 40 times as large as the engineds throat. It operates at a nominal chamber pressure of 300 pounds per square inch. HYDROGEN BACKGROUND The development of the RL-1O rocket engine was based upon the mastery of a powerful but temperamental fuel, hydrogen. The Swiss scientist Paracelsue identified the element in the 16th century and the French genius Antoine Lavoisier in the 18th century gave it a name--hydrogen, from the Greek,
meaning "water forming."
Konstantir Tsiolkovsky, the Russian theoretical pioneer of space projects, foresaw the use of hydrogen fuel in the 19th century and Dr. Robert Goddard selected this fuel as But as recently as 1950 the most promising rocket fuel. hydrogen as a rocket propellant remained a laboratory curiosity. At the advent of ih.c space age, scientists recognized that no chemical fuel substance equaled the energy output of hydrogen. If hydrogen could be leashed for use in rocket engines, the accomplishment would make possible substantial payload increases in upper stages of space vehicles, scientists knew. 3-2
But hydrogen was a tricky fiuel. Br'crv%;e of .1its, 1oboi 1ing point (-423 0 F) It i: hnrd to lv-Tp .In li.cju 1ci form. LIquid hydrogen I., co]or.Ine-s, ororl'-.s nnd oc v:'ry 1 ight weiglht, only one-f'ourtcenth as. heavy a., water. New techniques had to be n.;tabl:i shed before hydrogen could become a practical. fuel. The experience of Pratt & Whitney, dating back to 195'5, helped pro~;3 that liquid hydrogen can be transported and stored practicably and that, in many ways, the siiper-.cold liquid Is less dangerous than gn.-olinc. Other companien have also done pioneering .rork with the frigid Cluid. So long as ignition In avoided, liquid hydrogen is chemically inert :In the presence of common materials ,ncluding air, oil and oxygen. It is non-toxic, nonirritating and non-corrosive. It does not deteriorate or decompose from long-timc storage. The fuel. is stored in de*rar tanlcs, which are doublewalled containers with a vacuilm between the walls, s.milar to a thermos bottle. Portable dewar tanks follow the same pattern of construction. T'oda, it Is possible to keep liquid hydrogen just as "ready' as liquid oxygen wrlth ]I tt)e* loss due to evaporation. Large-scale tenting of liquid hydrogen fuel became posslble In 1956, with the opcning of the Pratt & Whitney Florida Reoearch and Developmcnt Center In W.ecst Palm Bcach. Adjacent to the plant, the A:ir Force built the first tonnage production facility for liquid hydrogen. It is operated by Air Products and Chemicals Inc. The facility takes crude oil and natural. gas, breaks it down into hydrogen gas, carbon dioxide and other products. and then refrigerates and purifies the hydrogen. The purity of the liquid hydrogen produced there is thought to be about 99.99999 per cent, among the purest materials knowrn to man. More powerful liquid hydrogen rocket engines will be built as the space program progresses. For instance, NASA is having developed at Rocketdyne Divioion of North American Aviation a new hydrogen engine, the 200,000 pound thrust J-2, which will be used in advanced Saturn upper stages. And NASA is negotiating a contract with Aerojet-General Corporatio.n to develop a 1.2 million pound thrust hydrogen engine kno:wn as the M-1. () As space missions develop, requiring higher power performance than that attainable with hydrogen combustion, 3-3 (OVER)
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In the simple nucleor rocket deig;-ns now envi;Tioricrl the reactor will serve merely to r'al-e the temnuratiire of the hydrogen and expel. it through tho nozzvl. At probable reactor operating temperatures, the ;specific impulse of -nuclear rockets using hydrogen as expelled gas can be expected to be thrice that of the be;t chemical systems. Hydrogen may give an additional bonus in space probesthat require landing on and returning from a distant planet. The vehicle weight could be reduced considerably if the vehicle could be refueled at its destination. Since water may exist on some of the other planets, scIentists speculate that hydrogen could be extracted at the destination, using power from the rocket's nuclear reactor. This planetary "gas station" would lead to enormous savings in vehicle weight or corresponding increases in payload capability.
1 Aii) F' AC I IJTT'rE
Centaur is a progrrar of the lqational Aeronautics and At NASA Jleadquartcrs. Centaur is Space Administration. directed by the Office of Space Sciences, headed by Dr. Homer E. Newell, whose deputy is Edgar M. Cortright. Colonel Donald Heaton is director of launch vehicles and propulsion. Commander Wi]liam Schubert is chief of the Centaur vehicle program. Technical direction of the program is provided by NASA's George C. Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama, Dr. Wernher von Braun, director. MSFC's Light and Medium Vehicles Office is headed by Hans Hueter who also is acting as Centaur project manager. The Centaur launch will be directed by the NASA Launch Operations Center, Cocoa Beach, Florida. Dr. Kurt H. Debus is LOC director and the chief of the Light/Medium Vehicle Systems Office is Ed Matthews. Prime contractor for Centaur is General Dynamics/ Astronautics, San Diego, California. Vice president of GD/A and Centaur program director is Grant L. Hansen and K. W. Jeremiah is deputy program director. Special consultant for Centaur is Krafft A. Ehricke who originated the Centaur concept and who is now director of advanced studies for GD/A. GD/A designed and assembled the Centaur at its facilities in San Di.ego. Wlith the exception of some engine testing, GD/A tests most systems and components at its facilities in the San Diego area--Point LToma. Sycamore Canyon and at the main plant on Kearny Mesa. At Point Loma, testing Ancludez liquid hydrogen transfer, simulated propellant loading and tests of the second stage dynamic characterlstics. Components, subsystems and systems are subjected to environmental testing at GD/A's main plant including vibrations, acceleration, temperature extremes, and humidity. At the Sycamore Canyon facility. Ctentaur main engines can be fired in a near-vacuum atmosphere simulating the space environment. GD/A also is prime contractor on the booster stage--a modified Atlas D--conceived and developed by the U. S. Air Force. The RL-lO engines were designed, built, and tested by the Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Division of United Aircraft Corp. at its West Palm Beach, Florida, Research and Development Center. Its general manager is W. L. Gorton. R. J. Coar is chief engineer. Bruce Torell is RL-lO program manager, and R. C. Mulready is assistant program manager. 4-1
The P'esco Products DTviL.lon of Borg Warner Corp. bui]t the boost pump; which are used to Supply propellant to the engines. Liquid hydrogen used in testing and flight operations Is supplied by Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. The three engines which power the first stage Atlas were built and tested by Rocketdync division of North American Aviation, Inc., Canoga Park, Callfornia. Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Company designed the inertial guidance system and built the system's stabilized platform. The guidance computer was provided by Librascope. Bell Aerospace Corp. furnished the upper stage hydrogen peroxide attitude control system. The second stage insulation panels were provided by the H. I. Thompson Company, while General Dynamics/Ft. Worth built the nose fairing. Under direction of the NASA Launch Operations Center, Centaur will be launched from Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral
by a General Dynamics/Astronautic3 launch team. The complex--
being used for the first time--was built under direction of the Jacksonville District of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers following a GD/A design. The service structure standing 173 feet high rolls on heavy double rails over the launch pedestal. Located 800 feet from the launch pad is the t;wno-story blockhouse with concrete walls and dome roof ranging from six to 15 feet in thickness topped by up to ten feet of carthfill. All necessary equipment for controlling and monitoring the vehicle's preparation and flight are contained in the structure including closed circuit television to permit the crew to observe pad operations and vehicle flight.
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