The events on this day in history for our heritage companies are noted below.
The earliest event was in 1956, the latest event was in 2009
1989 – LAUNCH: STS-34 (Atlantis), LC39B, KSC – 5 person crew, deployed the Galileo spacecraft (Jupiter mission)
1993 – LAUNCH: STS-58 (Columbia), LC39B, KSC – 7 person crew, Spacelab2
2002 – LANDING: STS-112 (Atlantis), KSC
Military and Classified Programs:
2003 – LAUNCH: LM DMSP-Block-5D 3 (16), LM Titan II SLV, SLC4W, VAFB – Final Titan II SLV launch
2009 – LAUNCH: LM DMSP-Block-5D 3 (18), ULA Atlas V 401, LC41, CCAFS
Exploration and Interplanetary Programs:
1962 – LAUNCH: Ranger 5, GD Atlas/Lockheed Agena B, LC12, CCAFS – Excessive velocity imparted by the Agena upper stage resulted in the Ranger 5 spacecraft flying past the moon
Earth-Monitoring and Civil Weather Satellite programs:
Test, ICBM, FBM programs:
1956 – LAUNCH: Lockheed X-17, LC3, CCAFS
1960 – LAUNCH: Lockheed Polaris A1, SSBN599, ETR
The photos today are an example of a DMSP (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) Block 5D spacecraft and the last Titan II/SLV launch that finally put DMSP Block 5D 3 (18) in orbit in 2003 after more than two years reworking issues with the spacecraft. The launch was originally scheduled for January, 2001.
During terminal countdown on that first event, a gas-fired prevalve did not open on the booster vehicle, resulting in a late abort just before engine start. At the same time during that attempt, there was drama at the launch pad as everyone monitoring the operations were watching a raccoon wandering around near the base of the vehicle, heading for sure obliteration, but the lucky critter was saved by the abort. The ladies in the crowd were cringing and worrying (including me in the Day of Launch Winds room); most of the guys were hooting and laughing anticipating this near-annihilation of the curious bandit.
During recovery operations in a attempt to turn around and launch again after removing the defective prevalve, a major anomaly was found on the DMSP spacecraft that would have resulted in a “dead” spacecraft electrical bus after liftoff (I don’t recall the details). The spacecraft was returned to the factory in Sunnyvale and the launch was finally back on the range in September, then into October, 2003. VAFB Operations also put in perimeter monitors and alarms at the pad so that unwary and curious critters would be warned off. We were able to buy really nice shirts commemorating the Titan II SLV program that had a raccoon emblem on the sleeve. Titan II/SLV was 100% successful – note that record is for the launch vehicle; a Landsat spacecraft kick motor failed in 1993 after separation from the Titan II. Thirteen Titan II/SLV vehicles were launched between 1988 and 2003; 14 vehicles total were restored and the spare vehicle can be seen on display at the Evergreen Air & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.