Encyclopedia Astronautica
Atlas Centaur SLV-3C



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Atlas Centaur SLV-3C
Credit: © Thomas Kladiva - Thomas Kladiva
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SLV-3C Centaur
SLV-3C Centaur AC-17 - COSPAR 1968-068
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Atlas Centaur
Atlas Centaur at Sunrise
Credit: Lockheed Martin
Standardised SLV-3C Atlas booster with Centaur D upper stage.

LEO Payload: 1,800 kg (3,900 lb). Payload: 1,800 kg (3,900 lb) to a GTO. Failures: 3. First Fail Date: 1968-08-10. Last Fail Date: 1971-05-09. LEO Payload: 1,900 kg (4,100 lb). Payload: 1,900 kg (4,100 lb) to a GTO. Failures: 3. Success Rate: 90.63%. First Fail Date: 1975-02-20. Last Fail Date: 1981-08-06.

Stage Data - Atlas Centaur SLV-3C

  • Stage 0. 1 x Atlas MA-5. Gross Mass: 3,646 kg (8,038 lb). Empty Mass: 3,646 kg (8,038 lb). Thrust (vac): 1,896.010 kN (426,240 lbf). Isp: 294 sec. Burn time: 174 sec. Isp(sl): 259 sec. Diameter: 4.90 m (16.00 ft). Span: 4.90 m (16.00 ft). Length: 0.0000 m ( ft). Propellants: Lox/Kerosene. No Engines: 2. Engine: LR-89-7. Status: In Production.
  • Stage 1. 1 x Atlas Centaur SLV-3C/D. Gross Mass: 128,500 kg (283,200 lb). Empty Mass: 4,000 kg (8,800 lb). Thrust (vac): 386.300 kN (86,844 lbf). Isp: 316 sec. Burn time: 430 sec. Isp(sl): 220 sec. Diameter: 3.05 m (10.00 ft). Span: 4.90 m (16.00 ft). Length: 22.20 m (72.80 ft). Propellants: Lox/Kerosene. No Engines: 1. Engine: LR-105-5. Status: In Production.
  • Stage 2. 1 x Centaur D/E. Gross Mass: 16,258 kg (35,842 lb). Empty Mass: 2,631 kg (5,800 lb). Thrust (vac): 131.222 kN (29,500 lbf). Isp: 444 sec. Burn time: 470 sec. Isp(sl): 0.0000 sec. Diameter: 3.05 m (10.00 ft). Span: 3.05 m (10.00 ft). Length: 9.60 m (31.40 ft). Propellants: Lox/LH2. No Engines: 2. Engine: RL-10A-3. Status: Out of Production.

AKA: LV-3C.
Gross mass: 148,404 kg (327,174 lb).
Payload: 1,800 kg (3,900 lb).
Height: 38.00 m (124.00 ft).
Diameter: 3.05 m (10.00 ft).
Thrust: 1,939.29 kN (435,970 lbf).
Apogee: 400,000 km (240,000 mi).
First Launch: 1967.09.08.
Last Launch: 1972.08.21.
Number: 17 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • Surveyor American lunar lander. 13 launches, 1963.11.27 (Atlas Centaur 2) to 1968.01.07 (Surveyor 7). Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Surveyor series soft-landed on the moon, provided images of the lunar surface, and tested the characteristics of the lunar soil. More...
  • Surveyor Block II American lunar lander. Study 1964. The Surveyor Block II spacecraft was imagined as an unmanned scout that could reconnoiter a specific lunar landing site for Apollo and assist the manned Lunar Module in making a precise touch down. More...
  • Surveyor Lunar Rover American lunar rover. Cancelled 1965. Follow-on Surveyor unmanned lunar landers were to deploy small nuclear-powered rovers (a carry-over from the cancelled Prospector spacecraft). More...
  • Surveyor Orbiter American lunar orbiter. Study 1965. NASA originally planned to have a version of the Surveyor spacecraft conduct detailed orbital photographic reconnaissance of the moon in preparation for the Apollo manned landings. More...
  • OAO American visible astronomy satellite. 4 launches, 1966.04.08 (OAO 1) to 1972.08.21 (OAO 3). More...
  • ATS-4 American communications technology satellite. One launch, 1968.08.10, ATS 4. A launch vehicle failure stranded ATS-4 in a much lower than planned orbit, making the satellite nearly useless. More...
  • Mariner 6-7 American Mars flyby probe. 2 launches, 1969.02.25 (Mariner 6) to 1969.03.27 (Mariner 7). Mariner 6 and 7 comprised a dual-spacecraft mission to Mars. More...
  • ATS-5 American communications technology satellite. One launch, 1969.08.12, ATS 5. More...
  • Intelsat 4 American communications satellite. 8 launches, 1971.01.26 (Intelsat 4 F-2) to 1975.05.22 (Intelsat 4 F-1). The Intelsat 4 series continued the growth of the Intelsat communications network. More...
  • Mariner 8-9 American Mars orbiter. 2 launches, 1971.05.09 (Mariner H) to 1971.05.30 (Mariner 9). The Mariner Mars 71 mission was planned to consist of two spacecraft on complementary missions. More...
  • Pioneer 10-11 American outer planets probe. 2 launches, 1972.03.03 (Pioneer 10) to 1973.04.06 (Pioneer 11). Pioneers 10 and 11 were the first spacecraft to fly by Jupiter (Pioneer 10 and 11) and Saturn (Pioneer 11 only). More...

See also
  • Atlas The Atlas rocket, originally developed as America's first ICBM, was the basis for most early American space exploration and was that country's most successful medium-lift commercial launch vehicle. It launched America's first astronaut into orbit; the first generations of spy satellites; the first lunar orbiters and landers; the first probes to Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn; and was America's most successful commercial launcher of communications satellites. Its innovative stage-and-a-half and 'balloon tank' design provided the best dry-mass fraction of any launch vehicle ever built. It was retired in 2004 after 576 launches in a 47-year career. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Convair American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Convair, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • ATS The Applications Technology Satellite was a project with the purpose of improving other satellites, specifically to enhance the ability of existing and future satellites to provide weather, and communications data and air/sea navigation aids. More...
  • Intelsat Intelsat operated the world's first commercial communications satellite. It has provided the scheduled transoceanic television and voice and data communications service ever since. More...
  • Mariner Mariner spacecraft were built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for early exploration of the nearby planets. The Mariner series became the first spacecraft to return significant data on the surface and atmosphere conditions of Venus, Mars, and Mercury. More...
  • 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...

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 LC36A Atlas launch complex. Launch site built in 1960 for NASA's Atlas/Centaur development program, and used for launches of that launch vehicle until its retirement. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC36B Atlas V, Atlas launch complex. Atlas Centaur launch pad, in service from 1964 until the retirement of the launch vehicle. More...

Associated Stages
  • Atlas Centaur SLV-3C/D Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 128,500/4,000 kg. Thrust 386.30 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 316 seconds. More...
  • Atlas MA-5 Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 3,646/3,646 kg. Thrust 1,896.01 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 294 seconds. More...
  • Centaur D/E Lox/LH2 propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 16,258/2,631 kg. Thrust 131.22 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 444 seconds. More...

Atlas Centaur SLV-3C Chronology


1967 September 8 - . 07:57 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. LV Configuration: SLV-3C Centaur AC-13 / Centaur D-1A 5901C.
  • Surveyor 5 - . Payload: Surveyor SC-5. Mass: 279 kg (615 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA; JPL. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Surveyor. Decay Date: 1967-09-11 . USAF Sat Cat: 2937 . COSPAR: 1967-084A. Summary: Soft lunar landing; returned 19,000 photos, soil data..

1967 November 7 - . 07:39 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. LV Configuration: SLV-3C Centaur AC-14 / Centaur D-1A 5902C.
  • Surveyor 6 - . Payload: Surveyor SC-6. Mass: 280 kg (610 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA; JPL. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Surveyor. Decay Date: 1967-11-10 . USAF Sat Cat: 3031 . COSPAR: 1967-112A. Summary: Soft landed on lunar Moon; photographed lunar surface; sampled lunar soil; used propulsion system to briefly lift off of lunar surface..

1968 January 7 - . 06:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36A. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. LV Configuration: SLV-3C Centaur AC-15 / Centaur D-1A 5903C.
  • Surveyor 7 - . Payload: Surveyor SC-7. Mass: 1,036 kg (2,283 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA; JPL. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Surveyor. Decay Date: 1968-01-10 . USAF Sat Cat: 3091 . COSPAR: 1968-001A. Summary: Soft landed on lunar Moon; photographed lunar surface; sampled lunar soil..

1968 August 10 - . 22:33 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36A. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. LV Configuration: SLV-3C Centaur AC-17 / Centaur D-1A 5104C. FAILURE: Centaur oxidizer leak. No restart.. Failed Stage: 2.
  • ATS 4 - . Payload: ATS D. Mass: 391 kg (862 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Greenbelt. Program: ATS. Class: Technology. Type: Communications technology satellite. Spacecraft: ATS-4. Decay Date: 1968-08-10 . USAF Sat Cat: 3344 . COSPAR: 1968-068A. Apogee: 769 km (477 mi). Perigee: 220 km (130 mi). Inclination: 29.1000 deg. Period: 94.50 min. Applications Technology Satellite that was to have been put into a geosynchronous transfer orbit, instead was left in a nearly-useless LEO orbit. ATS-4 included two cesium contact ion engines. Flight test objectives were to measure thrust and to examine electromagnetic compatibility with other spacecraft subsystems. The 5 cm diameter thrusters were designed to operate at 0.02 kW and provide about 89 microN thrust at about 6700 s specific impulse. The thrusters had the capability to operate at 5 setpoints from 18 to 89 microN. Thrusters were configured so they could be used for East-West station-keeping. Prior to launch, a 5 cm cesium thruster was life tested for 2245 hours at the 67 microN thrust level. However the Centaur upper stage did not achieve a second burn and the spacecraft remained attached to the Centaur in a 218 km by 760 km orbit. It was estimated that the pressure at these altitudes was between 10^-6 and 10^-8 Torr. Each of the two engines was tested on at least two occasions each over the throttling range. Combined test time of the two engines was about 10 hours over a 55 day period. The spacecraft re-entered the atmosphere on October 17, 1968. TheATS-4 flight was the first successful orbital test of an ion engine. There was no evidence of IPS electromagnetic interference related to spacecraft subsystems. Measured values of neutralizer emission current were much less than the ion beam current, implying inadequate neutralization. The spacecraft potential was about -132V which was much different than the anticipated value of about -40V.

1968 December 7 - . 08:40 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. LV Configuration: SLV-3C Centaur AC-16 / Centaur D-1A 5002C.
  • OAO 2 - . Payload: OAO A2. Mass: 2,012 kg (4,435 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Greenbelt. Class: Astronomy. Type: X-ray astronomy satellite. Spacecraft: OAO. USAF Sat Cat: 3597 . COSPAR: 1968-110A. Apogee: 758 km (470 mi). Perigee: 749 km (465 mi). Inclination: 35.0000 deg. Period: 99.90 min. Orbiting Astronomical Observatory; carried 11 telescopes; performed X-ray, UV, IR observations of stars. Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space (US Cat B). Launch vehicle put payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit

1969 February 25 - . 01:29 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. LV Configuration: SLV-3C Centaur AC-20 / Centaur D-1A 5403C.
  • Mariner 6 - . Payload: Mariner 69-3. Mass: 412 kg (908 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA; JPL. Program: Mariner. Class: Mars. Type: Mars probe. Spacecraft: Mariner 6-7. USAF Sat Cat: 3759 . COSPAR: 1969-014A. Mars flyby 31 July 1969; returned 75 images of Martian surface. Ten days before the scheduled launch, a faulty switch opened the main valves on the Atlas stage. This released the pressure which supported the Atlas structure, and as the booster deflated it began to crumple. Two ground crewman started pressurizing pumps, saving the structure from further collapse. The two ground crewman, who had acted at risk of the 12-story rocket collapsing on them, were awarded Exceptional Bravery Medals from NASA.

    The Mariner 6 spacecraft was removed, put on another Atlas/Centaur, and launched on schedule. The main booster was jettisoned 4 min. 38 sec. after launch, followed by a 7.5 minute Centaur burn to inject the spacecraft into Mars direct trajectory. After Mariner 6 separated from the Centaur the solar panels were deployed. A midcourse correction involving a 5.35 second burn of the hydrazine rocket occurred on 1 March 1969. A few days later explosive valves were deployed to unlatch the scan platform. Some bright particles released during the explosion distracted the Canopus sensor, and attitude lock was lost temporarily. It was decided to place the spacecraft on inertial guidance for the Mars flyby to prevent a similar occurrence.

    On 29 July, 50 hours before closest approach, the scan platform was pointed to Mars and the scientific instruments turned on. Imaging of Mars began 2 hours later. For the next 41 hours, 49 approach images (plus a 50th fractional image) of Mars were taken through the narrow-angle camera. At 05:03 UT on 31 July the near-encounter phase began, including collection of 26 close-up images. Due to a cooling system failure, channel 1 of the IR spectrometer did not cool sufficiently to allow measurements from 6 to 14 micrometers so no infrared data were obtained over this range. Closest approach occurred at 05:19:07 UT at a distance of 3431 km from the martian surface. Eleven minutes later Mariner 6 passed behind Mars and reappeared after 25 minutes. X-band occultation data were taken during the entrance and exit phases. Science and imaging data were played back and transmitted over the next few days. The spacecraft was then returned to cruise mode which included engineering and communications tests, star photography TV tests, and UV scans of the Milky Way and an area containing comet 1969-B. Periodic tracking of the spacecraft in its heliocentric orbit was also done.

    Science Results

    Mariner 6 returned 49 far encounter and 26 near encounter images of Mars. Close-ups from the near encounter phases covered 20% of the surface. The spacecraft instruments measured UV and IR emissions and radio refractivity of the Martian atmosphere. Images showed the surface of Mars to be very different from that of the Moon, in some contrast to the results from Mariner 4. The south polar cap was identified as being composed predominantly of carbon dioxide. Atmospheric surface pressure was estimated at between 6 and 7 mb. Radio science refined estimates of the mass, radius and shape of Mars.


1969 March 27 - . 22:22 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36A. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. LV Configuration: SLV-3C Centaur AC-19 / Centaur D-1A 5105C.
  • Mariner 7 - . Payload: Mariner 69-2. Mass: 412 kg (908 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA; JPL. Program: Mariner. Class: Mars. Type: Mars probe. Spacecraft: Mariner 6-7. USAF Sat Cat: 3837 . COSPAR: 1969-030A. Mars flyby 5 August 1969; returned 126 images of Martian surface. Mariner 7 was launched on a direct-ascent trajectory to Mars 31 days after Mariner 6. On 8 April 1969 a midcourse correction was made by firing the hydrazine moter for 7.6 seconds. On 8 May Mariner 7 was put on gyro control to avoid attitude control problems which were affecting Mariner 6. On 31 July telemetry from Mariner 7 was suddenly lost and the spacecraft was commanded to switch to the low-gain antenna. It was later successfully switched back to the high-gain antenna. It was thought that leaking gases, perhaps from the battery which later failed a few days before encounter, had caused the anomaly.

    At 09:32:33 GMT on 2 August 1969 Mariner 7 bagan the far-encounter sequence involving imaging of Mars with the narrow angle camera. Over the next 57 hours, ending about 5 hours before closest approach, 93 images of Mars were taken and transmitted. The spacecraft was reprogrammed as a result of analysis of Mariner 6 images. The new sequence called for the spacecraft to go further south than originally planned, take more near-encounter pictures, and collect more scientific data on the lighted side of Mars. Data from the dark side of Mars were to be transmitted directly back to Earth but there would be no room on the digital recorder for backup due to the added dayside data. At closest approach, 05:00:49 GMT on 5 August, Mariner 7 was 3430 km above the martian surface. Over this period, 33 near-encounter images were taken. About 19 minutes after the flyby, the spacecraft went behind Mars and emerged roughly 30 minutes later. X-band occultation data were taken during the entrance and exit phases. Science and imaging data were played back and transmitted over the next few days. The spacecraft was then returned to cruise mode which included engineering and communications tests, star photography TV tests, and UV scans of the Milky Way and an area containing comet 1969-B. Periodic tracking of the spacecraft in its heliocentric orbit was also done.

    Science Results

    The total data return for Mariners 6 and 7 was 800 million bits. Mariner 7 returned 93 far and 33 near encounter images. Close-ups from the near encounter phases covered 20% of the surface. The spacecraft instruments measured UV and IR emissions and radio refractivity of the Martian atmosphere. Images showed the surface of Mars to be very different from that of the Moon, in some contrast to the results from Mariner 4. The south polar cap was identified as being composed predominantly of carbon dioxide. Atmospheric surface pressure was estimated at between 6 and 7 mb. Radio science refined estimates of the mass, radius and shape of Mars.


1969 August 12 - . 11:01 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36A. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. LV Configuration: SLV-3C Centaur AC-18 / Centaur D-1A 5402C.
  • ATS 5 - . Payload: ATS E. Mass: 821 kg (1,809 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Greenbelt. Program: ATS. Class: Technology. Type: Communications technology satellite. Spacecraft: ATS-5. Completed Operations Date: 1984-01-01 . USAF Sat Cat: 4068 . COSPAR: 1969-069A. Apogee: 36,024 km (22,384 mi). Perigee: 35,992 km (22,364 mi). Inclination: 14.5000 deg. Period: 1,447.40 min. Applications Technology Satellite; communications tests. Launch vehicle successfully put the payload into a geosynchronous transfer orbit. The spacecraft maneuvered into geostationary orbit at 108 degrees W. The purpose of this flight was to demonstrate North-South Stationkeeping of a geosynchronous satellite. ATS-5 was equipped with an ion engine package identical to that on ATS-4. Once in geosynchronous orbit the spacecraft could not be despun as planned, and thus the spacecraft gravity gradient stabilization could not be implemented. The spacecraft spin rate was about 76 revolutions per minute, and this caused an effective 4g acceleration on the cesium feed system. The high g-loading on the cesium feed system caused flooding of the discharge chamber, and normal operation of the thruster with ion beam extraction could not be performed. The IPS was instead be operated as a neutral plasma source, without high-voltage ion extraction, along with the wire neutralizer to examine spacecraft charging effects. The neutralizer was also operated by itself to provide electron injection for the spacecraft charging experiments. Positioned in geosynchronous orbit over the Americas at 105 deg W in 1969-1977; over the Americas at 70 deg W in 1977-1983. As of 1 September 2001 located at 15.48 deg E drifting at 2.807 deg W per day. As of 2007 Mar 10 located at 111.70E drifting at 2.819W degrees per day.

1970 November 30 - . 22:40 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. LV Configuration: SLV-3C Centaur AC-21 / Centaur D-1A 5003C. FAILURE: Shroud failed to separate.. Failed Stage: S.
  • OAO-B - . Payload: OAO B. Mass: 2,121 kg (4,676 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Class: Astronomy. Type: X-ray astronomy satellite. Spacecraft: OAO. Decay Date: 1970-11-30 . COSPAR: F701130A. Summary: Orbiting Astronomical Observatory. Launch vehicle was to have put payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit.

1971 January 26 - . 00:36 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36A. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. LV Configuration: SLV-3C Centaur AC-25 / Centaur D-1A 5005C.
  • Intelsat 4 F-2 - . Mass: 706 kg (1,556 lb). Nation: International. Agency: Intelsat. Program: Intelsat. Class: Communications. Type: Civilian communications satellite. Spacecraft: Intelsat 4. Completed Operations Date: 1983-05-11 . USAF Sat Cat: 4881 . COSPAR: 1971-006A. Apogee: 36,236 km (22,515 mi). Perigee: 36,151 km (22,463 mi). Inclination: 15.3000 deg. Period: 1,457.00 min. Launch vehicle put payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit; the satellite performed the apogee burn and positioned itself in geosynchronous orbit over the Atlantic Ocean at 24.5 deg W. Subsequently at 23 deg W in 1971-1975; over the Atlantic Ocean 1-6 deg W in 1976-1980; over the Atlantic Ocean 0-5 deg E in 1980-1983. As of 3 September 2001 at 31.91 deg E drifting at 5.168 deg W per day. As of 2006 Dec 18 located at 133.93E drifting at 5.166W degrees per day. Spacecraft engaged in practical applications and uses of space technology such as weather or communication (US Cat C).

1971 May 9 - . 01:11 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36A. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. LV Configuration: SLV-3C Centaur AC-24 / Centaur D-1A 5405C. FAILURE: Inadvertent Centaur electronic signal shut down stage early.. Failed Stage: 2.
  • Mariner H - . Payload: Mariner 71H. Mass: 996 kg (2,195 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Mariner. Class: Mars. Type: Mars probe. Spacecraft: Mariner 8-9. Decay Date: 1971-05-08 . COSPAR: F710509A. Summary: Intended Mars flyby..

1971 May 30 - . 22:23 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. LV Configuration: SLV-3C Centaur AC-23 / Centaur D-1A 5404C.
  • Mariner 9 - . Payload: Mariner 71J. Mass: 974 kg (2,147 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA; JPL. Program: Mariner. Class: Mars. Type: Mars probe. Spacecraft: Mariner 8-9. USAF Sat Cat: 5261 . COSPAR: 1971-051A. The first spacecraft to orbit another planet. The Mariner Mars 71 mission was planned to consist of two spacecraft on complementary missions. Mariner 8 was to map 70 % of the Martian surface and Mariner 9 was to study temporal changes in the Martian atmosphere and on the Martian surface. The launch failure of Mariner 8 forced Mariner 9 to combine the mission objectives of both. For the survey portion of the mission, the planetary surface was to be mapped with the same resolution as planned for the original mission, although the resolution of pictures of the polar regions would be decreased due to the increased slant range. The variable features experiments were changed from studies of six given areas every 5 days to studies of smaller regions every 17 days. Mariner 9 was launched on a direct trajectory to Mars. Separation from the booster occurred at 22:36 GMT. The four solar panels were deployed at 22:40 GMT. The sensors locked onto the Sun at 23:16, shortly after the spacecraft left the Earth's shadow and Canopus acquisition was achieved at 02:26 GMT 31 May. A planned midcourse maneuver was executed on 5 June. Mariner 9 arrived at Mars on 14 November 1971 after a 167 day flight. A 15 minute 23 second rocket burn put the spacecraft into Mars orbit. The insertion orbit had a periapsis of 1398 km and a period of 12 hr, 34 min. Two days later a 6 second rocket burn changed the orbital period to just under 12 hours with a periapsis of 1387 km. A correction trim maneuver was made on 30 December on the 94th orbit which raised the periapsis to 1650 km and changed the orbital period to 11:59:28 so that synchronous data transmissions could be made to the Goldstone 64-m DSN antenna.

    Imaging of the surface of Mars by Mariner 9 was delayed by a dust storm which started on 22 September 1971 in the Noachis region. The storm quickly grew into one of the largest global storms ever observed on Mars. By the time the spacecraft arrived at Mars no surface details could be seen except the summits of Olympus Mons and the three Tharsis volcanoes. The storm abated through November and December and normal mapping operations began. The spacecraft gathered data on the atmospheric composition, density, pressure, and temperature and also the surface composition, temperature, gravity, and topography of Mars. A total of 54 billion bits of scientific data were returned, including 7329 images covering the entire planet. After depleting its supply of attitude control gas, the spacecraft was turned off on 27 October 1972. Mariner 9 was left in an orbit which should not decay for at least 50 years, after which the spacecraft will enter the Martian atmosphere.

    The Mariner 9 mission resulted in a global mapping of the surface of Mars, including the first detailed views of the martian volcanoes, Valles Marineris, the polar caps, and the satellites Phobos and Deimos. It also provided information on global dust storms, the gravity field as well as evidence for surface aeolian activity.


1971 December 20 - . 01:10 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36A. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. LV Configuration: SLV-3C Centaur AC-26 / Centaur D-1A 5006C.
  • Intelsat 4 F-3 - . Mass: 1,410 kg (3,100 lb). Nation: International. Agency: Intelsat. Program: Intelsat. Class: Communications. Type: Civilian communications satellite. Spacecraft: Intelsat 4. Completed Operations Date: 1984-02-23 . USAF Sat Cat: 5709 . COSPAR: 1971-116A. Apogee: 36,009 km (22,374 mi). Perigee: 35,930 km (22,320 mi). Inclination: 11.1000 deg. Period: 1,445.50 min. Over Atlantic. Spacecraft engaged in practical applications and uses of space technology such as weather or communication (US Cat C). Launch vehicle put payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit Positioned in geosynchronous orbit over the Atlantic Ocean at 20-25 deg W in 1972-1976; over the Atlantic Ocean 34 deg W in 1976-1977; over the Atlantic Ocean 18-22 deg W in 1977-1980; over the Atlantic Ocean 53 deg W in 1981-1982; over the Atlantic Ocean 38-44 deg W in 1982-1983 As of 4 September 2001 located at 90.58 deg E drifting at 2.365 deg W per day. As of 2007 Mar 10 located at 54.69E drifting at 2.365W degrees per day.

1972 January 23 - . 00:12 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. LV Configuration: SLV-3C Centaur AC-28 / Centaur D-1A 5008C.
  • Intelsat 4 F-4 - . Mass: 1,410 kg (3,100 lb). Nation: International. Agency: Intelsat. Program: Intelsat. Class: Communications. Type: Civilian communications satellite. Spacecraft: Intelsat 4. Completed Operations Date: 1983-05-10 . USAF Sat Cat: 5775 . COSPAR: 1972-003A. Apogee: 35,917 km (22,317 mi). Perigee: 35,905 km (22,310 mi). Inclination: 10.5000 deg. Period: 1,442.50 min. Over Pacific. Spacecraft engaged in practical applications and uses of space technology such as weather or communication (US Cat C). Launch vehicle put payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit Positioned in geosynchronous orbit over the Pacific Ocean at 174 deg E in 1972-1974; over the Pacific Ocean 179 deg E in 1975-1982; over the Atlantic Ocean 1 deg W in 1982-1983 As of 28 August 2001 located at 178.00 deg E drifting at 1.569 deg W per day. As of 2007 Mar 7 located at 155.84W drifting at 1.593W degrees per day.

1972 March 3 - . 01:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36A. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. LV Configuration: SLV-3C Centaur AC-27 / Centaur D-1A 5007C.
  • Pioneer 10 - . Payload: Pioneer F. Mass: 259 kg (570 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Ames. Program: Pioneer. Class: Outer planets. Type: Outer planets probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer 10-11. USAF Sat Cat: 5860 . COSPAR: 1972-012A. Jupiter flyby December 1973; first man-made object to leave solar system. The spacecraft achieved its closest approach to Jupiter on December 3, 1973, when it reached approximately 2.8 Jovian radii (about 200,000 km). As of Jan. 1, 1997 Pioneer 10 was at about 67 AU from the Sun near the ecliptic plane and heading outward from the Sun at 2.6 AU/year and downstream through the heliomagnetosphere towards the tail region and interstellar space. Additional Details: here....

1972 June 13 - . 21:53 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. LV Configuration: SLV-3C Centaur AC-29 / Centaur D-1A 5009C.
  • Intelsat 4 F-5 - . Mass: 1,410 kg (3,100 lb). Nation: International. Agency: Intelsat. Program: Intelsat. Class: Communications. Type: Civilian communications satellite. Spacecraft: Intelsat 4. Completed Operations Date: 1983-02-23 . USAF Sat Cat: 6052 . COSPAR: 1972-041A. Apogee: 35,847 km (22,274 mi). Perigee: 35,811 km (22,251 mi). Inclination: 11.3000 deg. Period: 1,438.30 min. Over Indian Ocean. Spacecraft engaged in practical applications and uses of space technology such as weather or communication (US Cat C). Launch vehicle put payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit Positioned in geosynchronous orbit over the Indian Ocean at 61 deg E in 1972-1975; over the Indian Ocean 60 deg E in 1976-1980; over the Pacific Ocean 179 deg E in 1980-1981 As of 2 September 2001 located at 8.61 deg E drifting at 0.536 deg W per day. As of 2007 Mar 9 located at 73.10W drifting at 0.625W degrees per day.

1972 August 21 - . 10:28 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC36B. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. LV Configuration: SLV-3C Centaur AC-22 / Centaur D-1A 5004C.
  • OAO 3 - . Payload: OAO-C. Mass: 2,204 kg (4,858 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Greenbelt. Class: Astronomy. Type: X-ray astronomy satellite. Spacecraft: OAO. USAF Sat Cat: 6153 . COSPAR: 1972-065A. Apogee: 724 km (449 mi). Perigee: 713 km (443 mi). Inclination: 35.0000 deg. Period: 99.20 min. Summary: UV observations of stellar objects. Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space (US Cat B). Launch vehicle put payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit.

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