The events on this day in history for our heritage companies are noted below.
The earliest event was in 1957, the latest event was in 2009
1973 – Skylab 3 splashes down
Military and Classified Programs:
1989 – LAUNCH: Fltsatcom 8, GD Atlas G/Centaur, LC36B, CCAFS
2006 – LAUNCH: LM GPS IIR-15M, Delta 7925-9.5, LC17B, CCAFS
2009 – LAUNCH: USA 208, 209, ULA Delta 7920-10C, LC17B, CCAFS
Exploration and Interplanetary Programs:
1960 – LAUNCH FAILURE: Pioneer P30, GD Atlas Able, LC12, CCAFS – second stage exploded
1992 – LAUNCH: GE Mars Observer, MM Commercial Titan III, LC40, CCAFS – Last commercial Titan launch, Mars Observer lost contact near Mars orbital insertion
Earth-Monitoring and Civil Weather Satellite programs:
Test, ICBM, FBM programs:
1957 – LAUNCH FAILURE: GD Atlas A, LC14, CCAFS
1958 – LAUNCH: Martin Bold Orion, B-47 aircraft, CCAFS
1963 – LAUNCH FAILURE: GD Atlas E, 576-A1, VAFB
1968 – LAUNCH: GD Atlas F/Trident, 576-A3, VAFB
1972 – LAUNCH: Lockheed Poseidon C3, SSBN643, ETR
The photos today are of the launch of Mars Observer on the last Commercial Titan and the spacecraft (which was lost before orbital insertion at Mars) during manufacturing at GE Astrospace (the loss of MO was noted as an event on August 21, 1993).
From the official failure report (from Wikipedia):
Because the telemetry transmitted from the Observer had been commanded off and subsequent efforts to locate or communicate with the spacecraft failed, the board was unable to find conclusive evidence pointing to a particular event that caused the loss of the Observer. However, after conducting extensive analyses, the board reported that the most probable cause of the loss of communications with the spacecraft on August 21, 1993, was a rupture of the fuel (monomethyl hydrazine (MMH)) pressurization side of the spacecraft’s propulsion system, resulting in a pressurized leak of both helium gas and liquid MMH under the spacecraft’s thermal blanket. The gas and liquid would most likely have leaked out from under the blanket in an unsymmetrical manner, resulting in a net spin rate. This high spin rate would cause the spacecraft to enter into the “contingency mode,” which interrupted the stored command sequence and thus, did not turn the transmitter on.
Additionally, this high spin rate precluded proper orientation of the solar arrays, resulting in discharge of the batteries. However, the spin effect may be academic, because the released MMH would likely attack and damage critical electrical circuits within the spacecraft.
The board’s study concluded that the propulsion system failure most probably was caused by the inadvertent mixing and the reaction of nitrogen tetroxide (NTO) and MMH within titanium pressurization tubing, during the helium pressurization of the fuel tanks. This reaction caused the tubing to rupture, resulting in helium and MMH being released from the tubing, thus forcing the spacecraft into a catastrophic spin and also damaging critical electrical circuits.