Encyclopedia Astronautica
Pioneer 0-1-2



pioneer1.jpg
Pioneer 1
Credit: NASA
American lunar orbiter. 3 launches, 1958.08.17 (Pioneer (1)) to 1958.11.08 (Pioneer 2). Pioneers 0, 1 and 2 were the first U. S. spacecraft to attempt to leave Earth orbit.

Propelled by the U. S. 's desire to beat the Soviet Union to the moon, each of the three vehicles was designed to go into orbit around the Moon and photograph the Moon's surface. None of the vehicles accomplished its intended mission, although some useful data was returned.

The first vehicle, Pioneer 0, was launched by the USAF and was destroyed 77 seconds after launch when the rocket's first stage exploded. Following this attempt, Pioneer 1 and Pioneer 2 were turned over to United States' newly formed National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Pioneer 1 was the first spacecraft launched by NASA. A programming error in the Pioneer 1 launch vehicle upper stage resulted in Pioneer 1 being given insufficient velocity to escape the Earth's gravitational field. Although lunar orbit was not achieved, it did reach an altitude of 113,854 km above Earth and provided data on the extent of the Earth's radiation belts. The vehicle re-entered over the Pacific Ocean 2 days later. Pioneer 2 also suffered a launch vehicle failure and re-entered the Earth's atmosphere 6 hours and 52 minutes after launch (it did not return any significant data). The spin stabilized spacecraft used a paint pattern for thermal control of the multi-instrument payload. A retro-rocket was to have allowed lunar orbit insertion if the moon had ever been reached. The payload included a TV camera, magnetometer, micrometeoroid impact detector, and radiation detector.

Gross mass: 38 kg (83 lb).
Height: 0.77 m (2.52 ft).
First Launch: 1958.08.17.
Last Launch: 1958.11.08.
Number: 3 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Delta The Delta launch vehicle was America's longest-lived, most reliable, and lowest-cost space launch vehicle. Development began in 1955 and it continued in service in the 21st Century despite numerous candidate replacements. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Delta American orbital launch vehicle. The Delta launch vehicle was America's longest-lived, most reliable, and lowest-cost space launch vehicle. Delta began as Thor, a crash December 1955 program to produce an intermediate range ballistic missile using existing components, which flew thirteen months after go-ahead. Fifteen months after that, a space launch version flew, using an existing upper stage. The addition of solid rocket boosters allowed the Thor core and Able/Delta upper stages to be stretched. Costs were kept down by using first and second-stage rocket engines surplus to the Apollo program in the 1970's. Continuous introduction of new 'existing' technology over the years resulted in an incredible evolution - the payload into a geosynchronous transfer orbit increasing from 68 kg in 1962 to 3810 kg by 2002. Delta survived innumerable attempts to kill the program and replace it with 'more rationale' alternatives. By 2008 nearly 1,000 boosters had flown over a fifty-year career, and cancellation was again announced. More...
  • Thor Able American orbital launch vehicle. Thor with Able stage derived from Vanguard second stage. More...
  • Thor Able I American orbital launch vehicle. Three stage vehicle consisting of 1 x Thor DM-18A + 1 x Able 1/AJ10-41 + 1 x Altair More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...
  • USAF American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. United States Air Force, USA. More...
  • TRW American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. TRW Corporation, Redondo Beach, CA, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • Pioneer The Jet Propulsion Laboratory Pioneer series were the first US probes sent towards the moon. Later Pioneers explored the heliocentric space environment and were the first spacecraft to reach the outer planets and to escape from the solar system. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Bramscher, Robert G, "A Survey of Launch Vehicle Failures", Spaceflight, 1980, Volume 22, page 351.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC17A Delta launch complex. Part of a dual launch pad complex built for the Thor ballistic missile program in 1956. Pad 17A supported Thor, Delta, and Delta II launches into the 21st Century. More...

Pioneer 0-1-2 Chronology


1958 August 17 - . 12:18 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Able I. LV Configuration: Thor Able I 127. FAILURE: Thor exploded after 77 sec.. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Pioneer (1) - . Payload: Pioneer / Able 1. Mass: 38 kg (83 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Program: Pioneer. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer 0-1-2. Decay Date: 1958-08-17 . COSPAR: F580817B. Apogee: 16 km (9 mi). Summary: First US lunar attempt. The first US Air Force lunar probe, using a Thor-Able booster. An explosion ripped it apart 77 seconds after launch..

1958 October 11 - . 08:42 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Able I. LV Configuration: Thor Able I 130. FAILURE: Third stage produced insufficient thrust. Partial Failure.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Pioneer 1 - . Payload: Pioneer 1 / Able 2. Mass: 38 kg (83 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Pioneer. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer 0-1-2. Decay Date: 1958-10-12 . USAF Sat Cat: 110 . COSPAR: 1958-Eta-1. Summary: Set distance record; failed to reach moon..

1958 November 8 - . 07:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC17A. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor Able I. LV Configuration: Thor Able I 129. FAILURE: Third stage ignition unsuccessful.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Pioneer 2 - . Payload: Pioneer 2 / Able 3. Mass: 39 kg (85 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Pioneer. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer 0-1-2. Decay Date: 1958-11-08 . COSPAR: F581108A. Apogee: 1,550 km (960 mi). Summary: Pioneer 2 was launched from the Atlantic Missile Range, using a Thor-Able booster, the Air Force acting as executive agent to NASA. The 86.3-pound instrumented payload, intended as a lunar probe, failed to reach escape velocity..

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