1952 in spaceflight

Summary

1952 in spaceflight
Viking 9.jpg
Launch of Viking 9, 15 December 1952
Rockets
Maiden flightsUnited StatesAerobee RTV-A-1a
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1c
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-2
United StatesViking (second model)
RetirementsNazi Germany V-2

The year 1952 was largely one of development and testing for the United States and the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, all branches of the United States, often in partnership with civilian organizations, continued its program of Aerobee sounding rocket research beyond the 100 kilometres (62 mi) boundary of space (as defined by the World Air Sports Federation),[1] and the University of Iowa launched its first series of rockoon flights, demonstrating the validity of the balloon-launched rocket. The launch of Viking 9 at the end of the year represented the pinnacle of contemporary operational rocket design.

Space exploration highlights

U.S. Navy

In the late spring of 1952, the Naval Research Laboratory team under the management of Milton Rosen prepared to launch the first second-generation Viking rocket, Viking 8, from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The new Viking design was nearly half-again as wide as its precursor, affording the highest fuel-to-weight ratio of any rocket yet developed. The tail fins no longer supported the weight of the rocket, has had previously been the case. Now, the Viking rocket rested on the base of its fuselage. This allowed the tail fins to be made much lighter, one of many ways the Viking was redesigned to carry a heavier tank without weighing more than the first Viking design.

On 6 June 1952, Viking 8 broke loose of its moorings during a static firing test. After it was allowed to fly for 55 seconds in the hope that it would clear the immediate area and thus pose no danger to ground crew, Nat Wagner, head of the "Cutoff group" delivered a command to the rocket to cease its thrust. 65 seconds later, the rocket crashed 4 miles (6.4 km) or 5 miles (8.0 km) downrange to the southeast.[2]:172–181

With lessons learned from the Viking 8 failure, the successful 9 December static firing of Viking 9 was followed on 15 December by a successful launch from White Sands. The rocket reached an altitude of 135 miles (217 km), roughly the same as that of the first-generation Viking 7, launched in 1950. In addition to cameras that photographed the Earth during flight, Viking 9 carried a full suite of cosmic ray, ultraviolet, and X-ray detectors, including sixteen plates of emulsion gel for tracking the path of individual high energy particles. The experiment package was recovered intact after it had secured measurements high above the Earth's atmosphere.[2]:185–203

American civilian efforts

1952 saw the first rockoon flights. These balloon-mounted rockets were significantly cheaper than sounding rocket flights: $1800 (equivalent to $14182) per launch versus $25,000 ($196967) for each Aerobee launch and $450,000 ($3545407) for each Viking launch. A series of seven ship-launched tests conducted by a University of Iowa team under James Van Allen achieved considerable success, one flight grazing the edge of space with an apogee of 55 miles (89 km).[3]:10–18

Vehicle development

U.S. Air Force

Progress remained slow on the Atlas, the nation's first ICBM, the contract for which had been awarded to Consolidated Vultee in January 1951 by the U.S. Air Force's Air Research and Development Command. Conservative development policies and daunting technical problems were the official causes, but the Air Forces's apparent lack of enthusiasm for project, along with the constraint of limited budget and resources, were factors as well. It was not until the first successful H-bomb test at Elugelab in November 1952 that the Atlas, potentially capable of delivering such a weapon, garnered more support.[4]:59–71

U.S. Army

The Redstone, a surface-to-surface missile capable of delivering nuclear or conventional warheads to a range of 200 miles (320 km), officially received the name "Redstone" on 8 April 1952. Authority for development of the missile had been assigned to Redstone Arsenal in Alabama on 10 July 1951, Chrysler Corporation was tasked to proceed with active work as the prime contractor on the missile by a letter order contract in October 1952 (this contract definitized on 19 June 1953).[5]

American civilian efforts

In part inspired by lectures he gave to the British Interplanetary Society in London the previous year, in 1952, Fred Singer began espousing in both print and public presentations the use of small artificial satellites to conduct scientific observations. This concept was dubbed "MOUSE" (Minimum Orbiting Unmanned Satellite of the Earth) and was dismissed by many as too radical and/or in conflict with human exploration of space.[3]:73

Soviet Union

In the Soviet Union, rocket development was focused on the R-5 missile, able to carry the same 1,000 kilograms (2,200 lb) payload as the R-1 and R-2 but over a distance of 1,200 kilometres (750 mi).[6]:242 The R-5, the conceptual design of which was completed by 30 October 1951,[7]:97 superseded the ambitious 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) range R-3, which was canceled on 20 October 1951[6]:275–6

The USSR's "first Soviet strategic rocket," as the R-5 was thenceforth known, was an incremental improvement on the R-1 and R-2 rockets with not only increased range but improved accuracy. Its propellant tanks were integral to the rocket, itself, reducing structural weight and allowing for more fuel.[7]:99–100 Two of the first ten R-5s produced underwent stand tests through February 1952,[8] and the sleek, cylindrical R-5 would be ready for its first launch March 1953.[7]:99–100

Also in 1952, the design bureau OKB-486 under Valentin Glushko began developing the RD-105 and RD-106 engines for an even more powerful rocket: the five engine R-6 ICBM. Using an integrated solder-welded configuration, developed by engineer Aleksei Isaev, these LOX/kerosene engines would be more powerful single chamber engines than those used in earlier rockets. Four 539.37 kN (121,260 lbf) RD-105 would power the R-6's four strap-on engines while a 519.75 kN (116,840 lbf) RD-106 would power the central booster.[7]:108–109

That same year, there was also a series of fourteen test launches of the mass-produced version of R-2 missile (range of 600 kilometres (370 mi)[6]:48–9). Twelve of the missiles reached their targets.[6]:266 The R-1 also was test-launched seven times.[9]

Launches

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

January

30 January
20:45
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1a United StatesHolloman AFB Launch Complex A United StatesARDC
ARDC/Utah Suborbital Ionospheric 30 January Launch failure[10]

February

19 February
14:49
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1c United StatesHolloman AFB Launch Complex A United StatesARDC
United States ARDC Suborbital Airglow 19 February Launch failure[10]
19 February
17:00
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-10 United StatesWhite Sands - Launch Complex 35 United StatesU.S. Navy
United States Sunfollower / SX Solar / chemical release mission Naval Research Laboratory Suborbital Sky brightness research 19 February Launch failure
Apogee: 81 kilometres (50 mi)[10]
29 February
14:40
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman AFB Launch Complex A United StatesARDC
United StatesAirglow ARDC Suborbital Sky brightness research 29 February Launch failure
Apogee: 89.3 kilometres (55.5 mi)[10]

April

22 April
17:28
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman AFB Launch Complex A United StatesARDC
ARDC Suborbital Ionospheric 22 April Successful
Apogee: 112.7 kilometres (70.0 mi)[10]
30 April
13:30
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-10 United StatesWhite Sands - Launch Complex 35 United StatesUS Navy
NRL Suborbital UV Astronomy 30 April Successful
Apogee: 127.8 kilometres (79.4 mi)[10]

May

1 May
14:59
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-10 United StatesWhite Sands - Launch Complex 35 United StatesUS Navy
NRL Suborbital UV Astronomy 1 May Successful
Apogee: 91.8 kilometres (57.0 mi)[10]
1 May
15:42
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman AFB Launch Complex A United StatesARDC
ARDC Suborbital Solar flux Solar ultraviolet mission 1 May Successful
Apogee: 91 kilometres (57 mi)[10]
5 May
13:44
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-10 United StatesWhite Sands - Launch Complex 35 United StatesUS Navy
NRL Suborbital Cosmic radiation, solar radiation research 5 May Successful
Apogee: 127 kilometres (79 mi)[10]
15 May
01:15
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-1 United StatesWhite Sands - Launch Complex 35 United StatesUS Army
Sphere US Army Suborbital Aeronomy 8 June Successful
Apogee: 76.1 kilometres (47.3 mi)[10]
20 May
16:06
GermanyV-2 United StatesWhite Sands Launch Complex 33 United StatesUS Army
US Army/Signal Corps Engineering Lab/University of Michigan Suborbital Test / photography / aeronomy mission 20 May Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 103.7 kilometres (64.4 mi)[11]
21 May
15:15
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman Launch Complex A United StatesUSAF
United StatesAeromed 3 Air Force Systems Command Suborbital Biomedical 21 May Successful
Carried 2 mice, apogee: 26.1 kilometres (16.2 mi)[10]

June

6 June
17:30
United StatesViking United StatesWhite Sands Army Launch Area 1 United StatesUS Navy
United StatesViking 8 (second model) Naval Research Laboratory Suborbital Solar 6 June Launch failure
Accidentally launched during static fire ground test[12]
18 June
17:50
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman AFB Launch Complex A United StatesARDC
ARDC Suborbital Solar radiation 18 June Successful
Apogee: 99.8 kilometres (62.0 mi)[10]
30 June
14:32
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman AFB Launch Complex A United StatesARDC
United StatesAirglow 1 ARDC Suborbital Skyglow 30 June Successful
Apogee: 101.4 kilometres (63.0 mi)[10]

August

1 August GermanySoviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 August
First of fourteen test launches of mass-produced version; twelve reached target.[13][6]:266
1 August GermanySoviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 August
Second of fourteen test launches of mass-produced version; twelve reached target.[13][6]:266
1 August GermanySoviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 August
Third of fourteen test launches of mass-produced version; twelve reached target.[13][6]:266
1 August GermanySoviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 August
Fourth of fourteen test launches of mass-produced version; twelve reached target.[13][6]:266
1 August GermanySoviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 August
Fifth of fourteen test launches of mass-produced version; twelve reached target.[13][6]:266
1 August GermanySoviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 August
Sixth of fourteen test launches of mass-produced version; twelve reached target.[13][6]:266
1 August GermanySoviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 August
Seventh of fourteen test launches of mass-produced version; twelve reached target.[13][6]:266
8 August GermanySoviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 8 August Successful
Eighth of fourteen test launches of mass-produced version; twelve reached target.[13][6]:266
20 August GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 20 August Successful[9]
21 August GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 21 August Successful[9]
21 August
06:25
United StatesDeacon rockoon United StatesUSCGC Eastwind (WAGB-279), Arctic Ocean United StatesUS Navy
University of Iowa Suborbital Ionospheric 21 August Partial failure
Apogee: 11 kilometres (6.8 mi);[14] rocket failed to fire.[3]:17
22 Aug
07:33
GermanyV-2 United StatesWhite Sands Launch Complex 33 United StatesUS Army
US Army/NRL/ARDC/National Institute of Health Suborbital Test / photography / solar x-ray / aeronomy mission 22 Aug Successful
Apogee: 78.2 kilometres (48.6 mi)[11]
24 August
03:34
United StatesDeacon rockoon United StatesUSCGC Eastwind (WAGB-279), Arctic Ocean United StatesUS Navy
University of Iowa Suborbital Ionospheric 24 August Partial failure
Apogee: 11 kilometres (6.8 mi);[14] rocket failed to fire, but instrument package worked.[3]:17
25 August GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 25 August Successful[9]
26 August
18:53
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1a United StatesHolloman AFB Launch Complex A United StatesARDC
United StatesIonosphere 2 ARDC/Utah Suborbital Ionospheric 26 August Unknown[10]
29 August
00:26
United StatesDeacon rockoon United StatesUSCGC Eastwind (WAGB-279), Arctic Ocean United StatesUS Navy
University of Iowa Suborbital Ionospheric 29 August Spacecraft failure
Apogee: 61 kilometres (38 mi);[14] first successful firing of balloon-launched rocket, instruments failed to return data.[3]:18
29 August
07:36
United StatesDeacon rockoon United StatesUSCGC Eastwind (WAGB-279), Arctic Ocean United StatesUS Navy
University of Iowa Suborbital Ionospheric 29 August Successful
Apogee: 60 kilometres (37 mi);[14] instruments returned data.[3]:18
29 August
18:15
United StatesDeacon rockoon United StatesUSCGC Eastwind (WAGB-279), Arctic Ocean United StatesUS Navy
University of Iowa Suborbital Ionospheric 29 August Successful
Apogee: 90 kilometres (56 mi);[14] instruments returned data.[3]:18
31 August
21:10
United StatesDeacon rockoon United StatesUSCGC Eastwind (WAGB-279), Arctic Ocean United StatesUS Navy
University of Iowa Suborbital Ionospheric 31 August Successful
Apogee: 60 kilometres (37 mi);[14] instruments returned data.[3]:18

September

1 September GermanySoviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 September
Ninth of fourteen test launches of mass-produced version; twelve reached target.[13][6]:266
1 September GermanySoviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 September
Tenth of fourteen test launches of mass-produced version; twelve reached target.[13][6]:266
1 September GermanySoviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 September
Eleventh of fourteen test launches of mass-produced version; twelve reached target.[13][6]:266
1 September GermanySoviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 September
Twelfth of fourteen test launches of mass-produced version; twelve reached target.[13][6]:266
1 September GermanySoviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 September
Thirteenth of fourteen test launches of mass-produced version; twelve reached target.[13][6]:266
3 September
14:49
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-10 United StatesWhite Sands - Launch Complex 35 United StatesUS Navy
United StatesSunfollower Naval Research Laboratory Suborbital Solar ultraviolet and x-ray mission 3 September Successful
Apogee: 99 kilometres (62 mi)[10]
4 September
09:17
United StatesDeacon rockoon United StatesUSCGC Eastwind (WAGB-279), Arctic Ocean United StatesUS Navy
University of Iowa Suborbital Ionospheric 4 September Successful
Apogee: 11 kilometres (6.8 mi);[14] instruments returned data.[3]:18
18 September GermanySoviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 18 September Successful
Last of fourteen test launches of mass-produced version; twelve reached target.[13][6]:266
19 September
15:49
GermanyV-2 United StatesWhite Sands Launch Complex 33 United StatesUS Army
Signal Corps Engineering Lab/National Institute of Health/University of Michigan Suborbital Temperature, composition; cosmic radiation 19 September Launch failure
Final flight of V-2, project Hermes launch, apogee: 7 kilometres (4.3 mi)[11]
25 September
03:50
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-1 United StatesWhite Sands - Launch Complex 35 United StatesUS Army
United StatesGRENADES US Army Suborbital 25 September Successful
Apogee: 117.5 kilometres (73.0 mi)[10]

October

10 October
14:24
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman AFB Launch Complex A United StatesARDC
ARDC Suborbital UV / Opt spectrographs Solar ultraviolet 10 October Successful
Apogee: 109.5 kilometres (68.0 mi)[10]
22 October
14:35
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman AFB Launch Complex A United StatesARDC
United StatesT-day ARDC Suborbital Aeronomy 22 October Successful
Apogee: 99.8 kilometres (62.0 mi)[10]
23 October
03:45
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-2 United StatesWhite Sands - Launch Complex 35 United StatesUS Army
United StatesGRENADES US Army Suborbital Aeronomy 23 October Successful
Apogee: 111.1 kilometres (69.0 mi)[10]
29 October GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 29 October Successful[9]
30 October GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 30 October Successful[9]
30 October GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 30 October Successful[9]

November

6 November
15:56
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman AFB Launch Complex A United StatesARDC
ARDC Suborbital Sky brightness 6 November Successful
Apogee: 75.7 kilometres (47.0 mi)[10]
21 November GermanySoviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 21 November Successful[9]

December

11 December
23:47
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-1 United StatesWhite Sands - Launch Complex 35 United StatesUS Army
United StatesSPHERE US Army Suborbital Aeronomy 11 December Successful
Apogee: 104.6 kilometres (65.0 mi)[10]
12 December
19:38
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 United StatesHolloman AFB Launch Complex A United StatesARDC
ARDC Suborbital Solar ultraviolet mission 12 December Successful
Apogee: 88.5 kilometres (55.0 mi)[10]
15 December
21:38
United StatesViking (second model) United StatesWhite Sands Army Launch Area 1 United StatesUS Navy
United StatesViking 9 NRL Suborbital Solar 15 December Successful
Apogee: 219 kilometres (136 mi)[12]

Suborbital launch summary

By country

Soviet Union: 21USA: 20Circle frame.svg
Country Launches Successes Failures Partial
failures
Unknown Remarks
 Soviet Union 21 19 1 2 0
 United States 27 19 4 3 1

By rocket

Rocket Country Launches Successes Failures Partial failures Unknown Remarks
V-2  United States 3 2 1 0 0 Retired
Viking (second model)  United States 1 1 0 0 0 Maiden flight
Aerobee RTV-N-10  United States 5 5 0 0 0
Aerobee XASR-SC-1  United States 3 3 0 0 0
Aerobee XASR-SC-2  United States 1 1 0 0 0 Maiden flight
Aerobee RTV-A-1  United States 3 3 0 0 0
Aerobee RTV-A-1a  United States 2 0 1 0 1 Maiden flight
Aerobee RTV-A-1c  United States 1 0 0 0 1 Maiden flight
Deacon rockoon  United States 7 4 0 3 0 Maiden flight
R-1  Soviet Union 7 7 0 0 0
R-2  Soviet Union 14 12 0 2 0

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 Milton W. Rosen (1955). The Viking Rocket Story. New York: Harper & Brothers. OCLC 317524549.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i George Ludwig (2011). Opening Space Research. Washington D.C.: geopress. OCLC 845256256.
  4. ^ John L. Chapman (1960). Atlas The Story of a Missile. New York: Harper & Brothers. OCLC 492591218.
  5. ^ "Installation History 1950 - 1952". U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Life Cycle Management Command. 2017. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Boris Chertok (June 2006). Rockets and People, Volume II: Creating a Rocket Industry. Washington D.C.: NASA. OCLC 946818748.
  7. ^ a b c d Asif A. Siddiqi. Challenge to Apollo: The Soviet Union and the Space Race, 1945-1974 (PDF). Washington D.C.: NASA. OCLC 1001823253.
  8. ^ Wade, Mark. "R-5". Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Wade, Mark. "R-1 8A11". Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Wade, Mark. "Aerobee". Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  11. ^ a b c Wade, Mark. "1951 Chronology". Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  12. ^ a b Wade, Mark. "Viking Sounding Rocket". Retrieved 7 January 2021.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Wade, Mark. "R-2". Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Wade, Mark. "Deacon Rockoon". Retrieved 8 January 2021.