1951 in spaceflight

Summary

1951 in spaceflight
Viking 7 before its 7 August 1951 launch.jpg
Viking 7 before its 7 August 1951 launch.
Rockets
Maiden flightsUnited StatesAerobee XASR-SC-1b
Soviet UnionR-1B
Soviet UnionR-1V
RetirementsUnited StatesViking (first model)
Soviet UnionR-1B
Soviet UnionR-1V

The year 1951 saw the Soviet Union definitively advancing beyond the V-2 with the deployment of the R-2 rocket, which could carry a ton of explosives twice as far as the German rocket. The USSR also launched its first series of biomedical tests at the 100 kilometres (62 mi) boundary of space (as defined by the World Air Sports Federation).[1] While the United States did not field any new boosters during the year, both the U.S.A.F. and the U.S. Army began their own next-generation ballistic missile projects, Atlas for the former and Redstone for the latter. Meanwhile, the Navy fired its Viking rocket to a record-breaking 136 miles (219 km) in August 1951. Throughout the year, several American agencies launched more than a dozen scientific sounding rocket flights between them.


Space exploration

American

The Army, Air Force, and the Applied Physics Laboratory continued their use of Aerobee sounding rockets on a variety of physics, aeronomy, photography, weather, and biomedical missions. 11 total were launched during the year.[2]

The first generation of U.S. Navy built Viking sounding rockets reached its acme of performance with the flight of Viking 7, the sole Viking launch of 1951. Launched 7 August from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the rocket set a new world altitude record of 136 miles (219 km).[3]:167–171, 236

Soviet

The R-1, the Soviet Union's first domestically built long range ballistic missile, was accepted into service in November 1950. In January 1951, cold weather testing of the R-1 for quality assurance purposes was conducted.[4]:149,152 On June 1, production of the R-1 was centralized and transferred to a former automobile factory in Dnepropetrovsk, and that month,[5] a test series of R-1s was successfully launched to the edge of space, all landing within 5.5 kilometres (3.4 mi) of their targets. Though the R-1, a virtual copy of the now-obsolete V-2,[4]:119 was not a particularly formidable weapon and posed virtually no threat to the West, it was invaluable in training engineers and missile crews, as well as creating a nascent rocket industry in the Soviet Union.[4]:152–3

On 29 January 1951, dogs were carried on one of the winter test flights of the R-1.[2] This was followed in the summer by six R-1s specifically designed equipped for biomedical flights to determine if their payload dogs could survive the rigors of space travel and be recovered. Three of the missions were successful.[6]

The R-2 missile, the first Soviet design to have a separable nose cone, underwent a second test series of thirteen flights on July 1951, experiencing one failure. Accepted for operational service on 27 November 1951, [7] the design had a range of 600 kilometres (370 mi), twice that of the R-1, while maintaining a similar payload of around 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb).[4]:48–9

Rocket development

U.S. Air Force

By 1950, the ballistic war-head carrying missile, which in the United States had been eclipsed by guided missile development, came back to the fore. In January 1951, the U.S. Air Force's Air Research and Development Command awarded to Consolidated Vultee the contract for Atlas, the nation's first ICBM.[8]:59–61 The Atlas went on to become one of the key boosters in America's crewed and robotic space programs,[9]:32–39 first orbiting a payload (SCORE (satellite)) in 1958.[8]:153,161–2

U.S. Army

On 15 April 1950, Wehrner von Braun and his team of German rocket engineers were transferred from Fort Bliss to Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. In 1951, Redstone was tasked with the research and development (R&D) of guided missiles as well as development and testing of free rockets, solid propellants, JATOs, and related items, thus making the Army a leading player in America's missile development.[10] There work led to the production of the Redstone missile, first launched in 1953,[11] versions of which launched America's first artificial satellite, in 1958, and America's first astronaut, in 1961.

U.S. Navy

In the summer of 1950, the NRL team led by Milton Rosen began work on an improved Viking rocket able to reach higher altitudes. Increased performance would be achieved through larger fuel tanks and reduced weight elsewhere on the rocket. Originally planned for launch in 1951, development of the second generation Viking took two years, and the first of the new rockets did not launch until 6 June 1952.[3]:172–3, 236

University of Iowa

In January 1951, Dr. James Van Allen, instrumental in the development of the Aerobee rocket, joined the physics department at the State University of Iowa (SUI). Along with University of Chicago graduate, Melvin B. Gottlieb, and Van Allen's first SUI graduate student, Leslie H. Meredith, they began a high altitude cosmic ray research program using equipment mounted on balloons. Launched from 16 June 1965 though 26 January 1952,[12]:7–10 this experience set the foundation for balloon-launched sounding rockets, which would first breach the boundary of space in 1954.[12]:38

Soviet Union

From 1947, the German émigré-designed G-1 (or R-10) had competed with the Russian-designed R-2 for limited engineering and production staff, the latter winning out by the end of 1949. With the project stalled for lack of resources and government interest, all work by the German specialists was terminated on October 1950. In December 1951, the first of the specialists were repatriated to East Germany (a process that was completed November 1953)[4]:69–70

The draft plan for the ambitious 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) range R-3 was approved on 7 December 1949,[4]:67 but was canceled on 20 October 1951, other designs proving more useful and achievable.[4]:275–6 One of them was the R-5 missile, able to carry the same payload as the R-1 and R-2 but over a distance of 1,200 kilometres (750 mi)[4]:242 (the other being the R-11, a tactical missile half the size of the R-1 but with the same payload).[13] The R-5's conceptual design was completed by 30 October 1951.[14]:97

Launches

Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload
(⚀ = CubeSat)
Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks

January

18 January
20:14
GermanyV-2 United StatesWhite Sands Launch Complex 33 United StatesG.E./US Army
Naval Research Laboratory Suborbital Solar 18 January Launch failure
Apogee: 2 kilometres (1.2 mi)[2]
18 January
20:14
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-10 United StatesWhite Sands Launch Complex 33 United StatesU.S. Navy
Naval Research Laboratory, U.S. Army Suborbital Solar ultraviolet, x-ray, chemical release 18 January Launch failure
Apogee: 1.6 kilometres (0.99 mi)[2]
22 January
22:55
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-10 United StatesWhite Sands Launch Complex 35 United StatesU.S. Navy
Applied Physics Laboratory Suborbital Aeronomy 22 January Successful
Apogee: 88.5 kilometres (55.0 mi)[2]
25 January
22:55
United StatesAerobee (rocket) United StatesWhite Sands Launch Complex 35 United StatesU.S. Navy
Applied Physics Laboratory Suborbital Ozone aeronomy 25 January Successful
Apogee: 90.1 kilometres (56.0 mi)[2]
29 January GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 29 January Successful[2]
30 January GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 30 January Successful[2]
31 January GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 31 January Successful[2]

February

1 February GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 February Successful[2]
2 February GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 2 February Successful[2]
6 February
17:20
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-10 United StatesWhite Sands Launch Complex 35 United StatesU.S. Navy
Applied Physics Laboratory Suborbital Earth photography 6 February Successful
Apogee: 98.2 kilometres (61.0 mi)[2]

March

9 March
03:16
GermanyV-2 United StatesWhite Sands Launch Complex 33 United StatesG.E./US Army
United StatesBlossom IV-E Air Materiel Command Suborbital Ionospheric, Solar, Aeronomy 9 March Launch failure
Apogee: 3 kilometres (1.9 mi)[2]
28 March
23:14
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman Launch Complex A United StatesUSAF
Air Force Systems Command Suborbital Aeronomy 28 March Successful
Apogee: 68 kilometres (42 mi)[2]

April

12 April
17:26
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman Launch Complex A United StatesUSAF
United StatesAeromed 1 Air Force Systems Command Suborbital Solar radiation 12 April Partial failure
Apogee: 20 kilometres (12 mi)[15]
18 April
18:39
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman Launch Complex A United StatesUSAF
United StatesAeromed 1 Air Force Systems Command Suborbital Biomedical 18 April Successful
First biomedical Aerobee mission, carried monkey; apogee: 61 kilometres (38 mi)[2]

May

29 May
19:46
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman Launch Complex A United StatesUSAF
ARDC Suborbital Ionospheric 29 May Launch failure
Apogee: 3.7 kilometres (2.3 mi)[15]

June

8 June
00:11
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman Launch Complex A United StatesUS Air Force
ARDC Suborbital Solar X-ray, aeronomy 8 June Successful
Apogee: 88.5 kilometres (55.0 mi)[15]
8 June
01:18
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-1 United StatesWhite Sands Launch Complex 35 United StatesUS Army
US Army Suborbital Aeronomy 8 June Launch failure
Apogee: 6.4 kilometres (4.0 mi)[15]
9 June
06:11
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-1 United StatesWhite Sands Launch Complex 35 United StatesUS Army
US Army Suborbital Aeronomy 9 June Launch failure
Apogee: 67 kilometres (42 mi)[15]
13 June GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 13 June Successful[2]
14 June
13:48
GermanyV-2 United StatesWhite Sands Launch Complex 33 United StatesG.E./US Army
NRL, US Army Suborbital Solar 14 June Launch failure[2]
14 June GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 14 June Successful[2]
18 June GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 18 June Successful[2]
19 June GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 19 June Successful[2]
20 June GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 20 June Successful[2]
22 June GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 22 June Successful[2]
23 June GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 23 June Successful[2]
24 June GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 24 June Successful[2]
25 June GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 25 June Successful[2]
26 June GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 26 June Successful[2]
27 June GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 27 June Successful[2]
28 June
21:43
GermanyV-2 United StatesWhite Sands Launch Complex 33 United StatesG.E./US Army
United StatesBlossom IV-F ARDC Suborbital Solar/aeronomy 28 June Launch failure
Apogee: 5.8 kilometres (3.6 mi)[2]

July

2 July Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 2 July
First of thirteen launches, 12 of which hit the target area.[14]:97
July Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test Same day
Second of thirteen launches, 12 of which hit the target area.[14]:97
July Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test Same day
Third of thirteen launches, 12 of which hit the target area.[14]:97
July Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test Same day
Fourth of thirteen launches, 12 of which hit the target area.[14]:97
July Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test Same day
Fifth of thirteen launches, 12 of which hit the target area.[14]:97
July Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test Same day
Sixth of thirteen launches, 12 of which hit the target area.[14]:97
July Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test Same day
Seventh of thirteen launches, 12 of which hit the target area.[14]:97
July Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test Same day
Eighth of thirteen launches, 12 of which hit the target area.[14]:97
July Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test Same day
Ninth of thirteen launches, 12 of which hit the target area.[14]:97
July Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test Same day
Tenth of thirteen launches, 12 of which hit the target area.[14]:97
July Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test Same day
Eleventh of thirteen launches, 12 of which hit the target area.[14]:97
July Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test Same day
Twelfth of thirteen launches, 12 of which hit the target area.[14]:97
22 July GermanySoviet UnionR-1V Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Biological 22 July Successful
Apogee: 100 kilometres (62 mi) Dogs Dezik and Zhegan were carried in space and were recovered.[2]
25 July
16:26
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman Launch Complex A United StatesUS Air Force
ARDC Suborbital Airglow research 25 July Successful
Apogee: 88.5 kilometres (55.0 mi)[15]
27 July Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 27 July
Last of thirteen launches, 12 of which hit the target area.[14]:97
29 July GermanySoviet UnionR-1B Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Biological 29 July Failure
Electrical failure, no payload recovery; carried dogs did not survive[2]

August

7 August
16:36
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman Launch Complex A United StatesUSAF
Air Force Systems Command Suborbital Ionospheric 7 August Successful
Apogee: 68 kilometres (42 mi)[15]
7 August
18:00
United StatesViking (first model) United StatesWhite Sands Army Launch Area 1 United StatesMartin
United StatesViking 7 NRL Suborbital Ionospheric/Solar 7 August Successful
Apogee: 219 kilometres (136 mi)[16]
15 August GermanySoviet UnionR-1B Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Solar/Biological 15 August Successful
Carried dogs, recovered[2]
19 August GermanySoviet UnionR-1V Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Biological 19 August Successful
Carried dogs, recovered[2]
22 August
19:00
GermanyV-2 United StatesWhite Sands Launch Complex 33 United StatesUS Army
US Army Suborbital Test 22 August Successful
First all Army team after General Electric's contract concluded; apogee: 213 kilometres (132 mi)[2]
28 August GermanySoviet UnionR-1B Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Biological 28 August Successful[2]
30 August
22:40
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1b United StatesHolloman Launch Complex A United StatesUSAF
Air Force Systems Command Suborbital Ionospheric 30 August Successful
Apogee: 68 kilometres (42 mi)[15]

September

3 September GermanySoviet UnionR-1B Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Biological 3 September Successful
Carried dogs, recovered[2]
13 September
11:37
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman Launch Complex A United StatesUSAF
Air Force Systems Command Suborbital Aeronomy 13 September Successful
Apogee: 75.7 kilometres (47.0 mi)[15]
20 September
16:31
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman Launch Complex A United StatesUSAF
United StatesAeromed 2 Air Force Systems Command Suborbital Biomedical 16:31 Successful
Carried 11 mice, apogee: 70.8 kilometres (44.0 mi)[15]
27 September
00:06
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-1 United StatesWhite Sands Launch Complex 35 United StatesUS Army
US Army Suborbital Aeronomy 27 September Successful
Apogee: 68.9 kilometres (42.8 mi)[15]

October

17 October
18:17
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman Launch Complex A United StatesUSAF
Air Force Systems Command Suborbital Ionospheric 17 October Successful
Apogee: 114 kilometres (71 mi)
29 October
21:04
GermanyUnited StatesV-2 United StatesWhite Sands Launch Complex 33 United StatesUS Army
US Army Suborbital Aeronomy 29 October Successful
Apogee: 137 kilometres (85 mi)[2]

November

1 November
09:45
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-1 United StatesWhite Sands Launch Complex 35 United StatesUS Army
US Army Suborbital Aeronomy 1 November Successful
Apogee: 66 kilometres (41 mi)[15]
3 November
00:35
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-1 United StatesWhite Sands Launch Complex 35 United StatesUS Army
US Army Suborbital Aeronomy 3 November Successful
Apogee: 66 kilometres (41 mi)[15]

Suborbital launch summary

By country

Soviet Union: 33USA: 24Circle frame.svg
Country Launches Successes Failures Partial
failures
Remarks
 Soviet Union 33 31 1 1
 United States 25 17 7 1

By rocket

Rocket Country Launches Successes Failures Partial failures Remarks
V-2  United States 6 2 4 0
Viking (first model)  United States 1 1 0 0
Aerobee RTV-N-10  United States 4 3 1 0
Aerobee XASR-SC-1  United States 4 3 1 0
Aerobee RTV-A-1  United States 9 7 1 1
Aerobee RTV-A-1b  United States 1 1 0 0 Maiden flight
R-1  Soviet Union 16 16 0 0 Maiden flight, retired
R-1B  Soviet Union 2 1 1 0 Maiden flight, retired
R-1V  Soviet Union 2 2 0 0 Maiden flight, retired
R-2  Soviet Union 13 12 0 1

References

  1. ^ Voosen, Paul (24 July 2018). "Outer space may have just gotten a bit closer". Science. doi:10.1126/science.aau8822. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj Wade, Mark. "1951 Chronology". Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  3. ^ a b Milton W. Rosen (1955). The Viking Rocket Story. New York: Harper & Brothers. OCLC 317524549.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Boris Chertok (June 2006). Rockets and People, Volume II: Creating a Rocket Industry. Washington D.C.: NASA. OCLC 946818748.
  5. ^ Wade, Mark. "R-1". Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  6. ^ Chris Gebhardt (20 September 2016). "Aerobee-19: 65 years after animal flight that paved the way for Project Mercury". NASASpaceflight.com. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  7. ^ Wade, Mark. "R-2". Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  8. ^ a b John L. Chapman (1960). Atlas The Story of a Missile. New York: Harper & Brothers. OCLC 492591218.
  9. ^ Will Eisner (1962). America's Space Vehicles A pictorial review. London: Oak Tree Press, Ltd. OCLC 916575496.
  10. ^ "Installation History 1950 - 1952". U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command. 2017.
  11. ^ "Installation History 1953 - 1955". U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command. 2017.
  12. ^ a b George Ludwig (2011). Opening Space Research. Washington D.C.: geopress. OCLC 845256256.
  13. ^ Wade, Mark. "R-11". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 17 February 2008.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Asif A. Siddiqi. Challenge to Apollo: The Soviet Union and the Space Race, 1945-1974 (PDF). Washington D.C.: NASA. OCLC 1001823253.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Wade, Mark. "Aerobee". Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  16. ^ Wade, Mark. "Viking Sounding Rocket". Retrieved 7 January 2021.