|Mission type||Abort test|
|Mission duration||2 minutes, 22 seconds|
|Distance travelled||23 kilometres (14 mi)|
|Apogee||16.3 kilometres (10.1 mi)|
|Launch mass||1,141 kilograms (2,515 lb)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||November 8, 1960, 15:18UTC|
|Launch site||Wallops LA-1|
|End of mission|
|Landing date||November 8, 1960, 15:20UTC|
Little Joe 5 was the November 8, 1960, unmanned atmospheric test flight of the Mercury spacecraft, conducted as part of the U.S. Mercury program. The objective was to test a production Mercury capsule (#3) and the launch escape system during an ascent abort at maximum dynamic pressure. The mission was launched from Wallops Island, Virginia. Sixteen seconds after liftoff, the escape rocket and the tower jettison rocket both fired prematurely. Furthermore, the booster, capsule, and escape tower failed to separate as intended. The entire stack was destroyed on impact with the Atlantic Ocean. The Little Joe 5 flew to an apogee of 10.1 miles (16.2 km) and a range of 13 miles (20.9 km). Some capsule and booster debris was recovered from the ocean floor for post flight analysis.
This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
1960 November 8–15:18 GMT - Wallops Island LA1. LV Model: Little Joe 1 2P . Little Joe 1-2P LJ-5 FAILURE: At 15.4 seconds the escape rocket motor and tower jettison motor ignited prematurely. Mercury LJ-5 Agency: NASA. Apogee: 16 km (9 mi). Little Joe 5 with a Mercury production spacecraft was launched from Wallops Island to test the spacecraft in an abort simulating the most severe launch conditions. At 15.4 seconds after liftoff, the escape rocket motor and tower jettison motor ignited prematurely. Booster, capsule, and tower remained mated through ballistic trajectory until destroyed on impact.