UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


The Cape

Chapter Three Footnotes

Lt. Colonel Bobby J. Hilbert
Lt. Colonel William J. Sparkman succeeded Lt. Colonel Hilbert as ATLAS Systems Division Chief at the end of September 1971, and he continued in that capacity until April 1973. Lt. Colonel Warren G. Green assumed the Chief's duties following Sparkman's departure in April, and he remained in that post until he became Chief of the Space Launch Vehicle Systems Division in November 1975.

Complex 13
General Dynamics had 90 people assigned to its operations at Complex 13 in January 1971, and Lockheed had 161 people on the job. The numbers fluctuated between 70 and 100 personnel for GDC over the next five years, but Lockheed's numbers continued on a fairly steady downward trend until the company instituted its factory-augmented launch team concept in the early part of 1974. Lockheed's launch base strength quickly dropped from 117 to 70 personnel following that change, and the Lockheed workforce finally leveled off at about 60 people by the middle of 1975. General Electric, Burroughs and Rocketdyne maintained virtually the same numbers of employees throughout the period (e.g., 25, 10 and two people in 1971 and 24, 10 and two people in 1975).

payloads branch
Captain Frederick R. Wohrman was Chief of the Payloads Branch, and he continued as the Manager for TITAN IIIC Satellite Systems in 1973. Major Jerry H. Freer succeeded Major Wohrman in the latter half of 1973, and Freer continued as Chief of the Space Satellite Systems Launch Operations Branch before he became Chief of the newly created Satellite Systems Division in November 1975.

6595th Commander's request to reorganize
In a letter to the 6555 Test Group's commander in June 1975, Colonel William C. Chambers (6595th Aerospace Test Wing Commander) requested the reorganization of the 6555 Test Group's ATLAS and TITAN payload sections into one new division to make the most efficient use of "limited Wing/Group manpower." Colonel John C. Bricker received approval to initiate the reorganization in October 1975, and the effective date of the change was established as 1 November 1975. Under the new setup, the Satellite Systems Division was authorized six officers, seven airmen and three civilians. The Space Launch Vehicle Systems Division received slots for 20 officers, 31 airmen and 13 civilians. The Space Transportation System Division was authorized six officers and one civilian, and the Resources Management Division was given slots for one officer, seven airmen and one civilian. Colonel Bricker's immediate office staff consisted of one officer and two civilians.

The NATO IIB weighed approximately 535 pounds at launch and 285 pounds on orbit. Cylindrical in shape, the spacecraft was 54 inches in diameter and 32 inches high. (Its antenna assembly added another 31 inches to the length of the satellite when deployed.) The satellite was placed in a 22,000-mile-high geosynchronous orbit midway between Africa and South America in line with the equator. The satellite joined the NATO IIA communications satellite, which had been launched successfully in March 1970. The Kennedy Space Center's Unmanned Launch Operations Directorate was contracted to launch the NATO IIB for the Air Force, which acted as NATO's agent. The NATO IIB linked NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium with national capitals and NATO command locations on land and sea.

For a typical mission, the ATLAS booster/sustainer stage was transported from GDC's plant to the Cape and received at Hangar J. Following its receiving inspection and nacelle installation, the booster/sustainer was erected about ten weeks before launch. The AGENA upper stage was flown from Sunnyvale, California to the Cape, and it was received and inspected in Hangar E. Following mechanical checks, the AGENA was transferred to the launch pad about three weeks before launch. The payload arrived about two to three weeks before launch, and it was taken directly to the pad for mating and prelaunch tests. Compatibility checks and launch readiness tests were performed during the last two weeks before the mission.

installation and system validation
After AFSCF checks were completed, the New Hampshire Remote Tracking Station performed an operational simulation for the RVCF using a telemetry and command simulator. Put simply, the tracking station sent computer commands to the RVCF via commercially leased data circuits, and the RVCF formatted and transmitted command tones to the simulator. The RVCF subsequently received the simulator's downlink telemetry and retransmitted it to the Satellite Test Center in Sunnyvale, California for printout.

space-related programs
The programs included DSCS II, the Defense Support Program, the NATO III, the Universal Payload Fairing, Space Test Program 74-1, and the Applications Technology Satellite F (ATS-F) program. The FLTSATCOM program may also be included, though it was transferred to the ATLAS Systems Division in June 1973. In connection with this list, only the NATO III, SKYNET and FLTSATCOM programs will be covered in this chapter.

SKYNET satellites
SKYNET A was launched from Pad 17A on 21 November 1969, and it was placed in a near synchronous orbit above the equator over the Indian Ocean. It was the first spacecraft in a planned constellation of one operational communications satellite and one standby satellite. SKYNET was designed to provide the British Ministry of Defence with secure communications between Great Britain and posts as far away as Singapore. Cylindrical in shape, the SKYNET A was 32 inches in diameter and 54 inches long. With its antennas extended, its overall length was about 62 inches. The spacecraft weighed 535 pounds at launch and 285 pounds on orbit. The second satellite, SKYNET B was the same size and weight as the SKYNET A, but its launch was not as fortunate: following its lift-off from Pad 17A on 19 August 1970, the SKYNET B was lost coming out of its transfer orbit after its apogee kick motor misfired midway through its intended 27-second burn.

The SKYNET II series satellites were cylinders 75 inches in diameter and 82 inches high. Each weighed 960 pounds at lift-off and had an operational life expectancy of five years.

NATO IIIA communications satellite
The NATO III series satellites were built by Aeroneutronic Ford Corporation's Western Development Laboratories Division under a Space and Missile Systems Organization contract for NATO. The NATO III network was planned as a constellation of three satellites, all launched by NASA for the Air Force at Cape Canaveral. The main body of each satellite was a cylinder 86 inches in diameter and 88 inches long. (Protruding antennas gave the spacecraft an overall length of 122 inches.) The NATO III spacecraft weighed 1,543 pounds at lift-off and approximately 700 pounds (following Apogee Kick Motor fuel depletion) on orbit. The satellite's surface was covered with solar cells to provide electrical power, and the spacecraft was equipped with two wide beam transponders and one narrow beam transponder to provide secure communications to the NATO member nations. The satellite had an operational life expectancy of seven years.

DELTA booster
The booster consisted of an extended long-tank THOR first stage, TRW second stage, Thiokol third stage and nine Castor II solid rocket motors. A DELTA Inertial Guidance System (DIGS) in the second stage of the vehicle guided the first two stages to the release point for the third stage and payload. A timer in the third stage initiated the spacecraft separation.

spacecraft system performed
The catalyst-bed thruster heater did not perform as well as expected, but it had no effect on the mission's success.

Lt. Colonel Russell E. Vreeland, Jr.
Colonel Vreeland succeeded Major Freer as Satellite Systems Division Chief following Freer's reassignment as Chief, Resources Management Division in the last half of 1976. Colonel Vreeland continued as Division Chief at least through September 1978. He was succeeded by Colonel Charles H. MacGregor sometime in FY 1979.

FLTSATCOM spacecraft
The FLTSATCOM spacecraft consisted of two hexagonal modules equipped with antennas and a solar array. In its deployed configuration, the satellite was approximately 24 feet long and 44 feet wide (across its solar panels). It had an operational life expectancy of five years.

super high frequency communications
The Naval Electronics System Command provided overall program management for the FLTSATCOM, but the Air Force was given 12 narrow-band communications channels for use in the Air Force Satellite Communications System.

The British Ministry of Defence initially supported a SKYNET III follow-on to the SKYNET II program, but it eventually cancelled that project in favor of the SKYNET IV. Unlike its American-built predecessors, SKYNET IV communications satellites were built by the British Aerospace Dynamics Group.

The British expressed an interest in manifesting the SKYNET IVs on all-military Shuttle missions, but the Ministry of Defence was willing to settle for mixed military/commercial flights.

Greenwich Mean Time
All times will be expressed in "Z" (Greeenwich Mean Time) for the remainder of this chapter.

ARIANE 4 launch vehicle
The ARIANE 4 used for the mission was equipped with two strap-on liquid rocket engines and two strap-on solid rocket motors to lift a dual payload consisting of the ASTRA-1 communications satellite and the SKYNET IV-B. That vehicle could lift approximately 3,700 kilograms into geostationary orbit.

first launch attempt
The first attempt was scrubbed due to clouds and lightning in the launch area. Four more attempts were scrubbed for upper level wind constraint violations, and the other two attempts were scrubbed for temperature constraint violations.

military navigation
The Navy sponsored two navigation satellite programs to enhance two-dimensional navigation (e.g., TRANSIT and TIMATION). The Air Force underwrote concept and system design studies for a highly accurate three-dimensional navigation system called System 621B. The System 621B concept was verified in tests and experiments at Holloman AFB, New Mexico and the White Sands Missile Range.

Block I NAVSTAR satellites
The satellites were inserted into orbit by a stage vehicle system developed by Fairchild Space and Electronics Company of Germantown, Maryland. The system employed a spin-stabilized, tandem pair of solid rocket motors (mounted atop the ATLAS F) to boost each 1,720-pound GPS satellite into orbit.

GPS development phase
During the developmental phase, the fledgling Block I GPS constellation was supported with replenishment satellites and the first Block II GPS satellite (designated GPS 12) was built. During the production phase, a full constellation of Block II production satellites would be built and deployed, and large quantities of user equipment would be manufactured and issued to forces in the field.

payload assist modules
This was not McDonnell's first payload assist module contract for the GPS program. As far back as 1978, the Air Force was aware that Block II NAVSTAR satellites would be 200-400 pounds heavier than Block I spacecraft, and Fairchild's original stage vehicle system would not be able to handle the heavier payloads. Consequently, the Space and Missile Systems Organization advertised for a more powerful stage vehicle in October 1978, and it issued a formal Request For Proposal (RFP) on 25 January 1979 for two Space Guidance System II (SGS II) upper stages with an option to deliver and launch five more vehicles by July 1983. McDonnell Douglas was the only contractor to respond to the RFP by the closing date (13 March 1979), and the company was awarded the initial SGS II contract on 14 June 1980. McDonnell Douglas experienced nozzle defects and stability problems with the SGS II's Thiokol Star 48 solid rocket motors, but, with the Aerospace Corporation's help, the contractor resolved its difficulties in 1983. ATLAS E launch vehicles equipped with SGS II upper stages were used to boost the NAVSTAR 9, 10 and 11 satellites into their transfer orbits in 1984 and 1985. Concerning McDonnell Douglas' later contract, the PAM-DII was based on the PAM-D payload assist module already in service on the Space Shuttle. Like the PAM-D, the PAM-DII was designed to boost its payload into an elliptical transfer orbit after the spacecraft was deployed from the Shuttle's cargo bay.

store Block II satellites
Slowing down the production line proved to be a cheaper solution than storing the NAVSTAR II satellites. So, in December 1986, the Air Force asked Rockwell to submit a proposal to extend the production schedule by three years. In May 1988, a change to the contract incorporated the three-year extension at a cost of approximately $96,500,000. The first production NAVSTAR II satellite (GPS-13, a.k.a., NAVSTAR II-1) was delivered to the Air Force in April 1987. Four other production NAVSTAR II satellites were delivered to the Cape by the middle of July 1988.

a newly configured PAM-D
The use of the PAM-D designation is a bit confusing, since an earlier PAM-D had been used with the Space Shuttle before the PAM-DII contract was awarded back in 1984. The new PAM-D developed about 25,000 pounds of thrust. It was intended for use only with the DELTA II booster and NAVSTAR II satellite. Thereafter, the PAM-S was designated for use with the Space Shuttle.

NASA processed requests for DELTA launch services, but the Air Force was going to replace NASA as the government agency responsible for DELTA operations at the Cape. This would occur as soon as Complex 17, Area 57 and most of Hangar M could be transferred to the Air Force-presumably, after the DELTA 181 mission was launched on 8 February 1988. In accordance with an Air Force/NASA agreement signed by Secretary Aldridge and NASA Administrator James C. Fletcher on 1 July 1988, the KSC Director signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between KSC and ESMC authorizing the transfer of DELTA launch site operations to the Air Force. The MOU was signed on 16 August 1988. Though NASA continued to process the DELTA 183 payload at KSC, transfer of the Cape's DELTA-related facilities was to begin immediately. The 6550th's civil engineers received and distributed NASA's accountability transfer forms before the end of August, and the signed forms were hand-delivered to NASA's Air Force Management Office on 29 September 1988. Complex 17's real property transfer was essentially complete by 10 October 1988.

extended their workdays
McDonnell Douglas maintained that schedule for about a year before easing back to 60-hour workweeks in late August 1989. The Test Group's Medium Launch Vehicle Division maintained a six-day, 72-hour workweek from July 1988 through mid-August 1989.

Block IIA NAVSTAR satellites and Hercules Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEMs)
The Block IIA satellites were approximately 400 pounds heavier than their Block II predecessors because of extensive mechanical differences between the two series of satellites. To handle the additional payload, the Rocketdyne main engine nozzle was increased from an 8:1 expansion ratio to a 12:1 expansion ratio, and the Morton Thiokol Castor IVAs were replaced with more powerful Hercules Graphite Epoxy Motors (GEMs). The Hercules GEMs were about six feet longer and 3,000 pounds heavier than the Castor IVAs (e.g., 401.6 inches vs. 323.4 inches and 28,657 pounds vs. 25,562 pounds), but the motor's lighter graphite epoxy casing allowed all the additional weight to be translated into fuel. Each GEM generated 144,533 pounds of maximum thrust-approximately 25,000 pounds more than the Castor IVA's maximum-and the GEM's total impulse power was about 16 percent higher than the Castor IVA.

second stage's engine ceased firing
The Model 6925's second stage engine cutoff occurred approximately 11 minutes and 29 seconds after launch. The same event occurred about a minute earlier for the Model 7925.

transfer orbit
Only the Model 7925 used the second stage engine to assist with the transfer orbit maneuver. The second stage's burn lasted approximately 20 seconds, and the second stage coasted before separating from the vehicle about 21 minutes and 2 seconds into the flight. The Model 7925 fired its third stage motor about 21 minutes and 40 seconds after lift-off, and it inserted the spacecraft into the proper transfer orbit. There was no second burn for the Model 6925's second stage. The second stage merely separated from the vehicle after coasting in low-Earth orbit for about nine and a half minutes. The Model 6925's third stage ignited about 21 minutes and 33 seconds after lift-off, and it pushed the payload into its proper transfer orbit.

five earlier countdowns were attempted
Countdowns were attempted on May 20, May 21st, May 23rd, May 24th and 9 June 1989 before the NAVSTAR II-2 mission was launched on June 10th. A Liquid Oxygen (LOX) valve problem caused the launch scrub on May 24th, and the other launch attempts were scrubbed for weather.

LOSAT-X payload
The LOSAT-X should have been launched along with two other Strategic Defense Initiative payloads (e.g., LOSAT L and LOSAT R) on a Commercial DELTA II launch vehicle on 14 February 1990. Unfortunately, the "X" payload was not ready in time for that launch, so it was remanifested as part of the NAVSTAR II-11 flight. The LOSAT-X was mounted sideways on the DELTA II's second stage, and it was jettisoned approximately one hour, five minutes and thirty seconds into the flight-about 44 minutes and 27 seconds after second stage/third stage separation. A ground station in Boulder, Colorado provided primary control for the LOSAT-X on its classified mission. The Consolidated Space Test Center at Sunnyvale, California provided a backup control capability.

three separate countdowns
The first two countdowns were aborted on 4 and 5 April 1992 due to upper level winds. Weather was also a concern during the night of April 9th, but wind conditions improved. The third and final countdown was uneventful, and the vehicle lifted off the pad at 0319:59.988Z on April 10th.

vehicle misfire
The DELTA II vehicle was placed in a safe condition after the misfire, and it took two hours to detank the kerosene and liquid oxygen propellants from the vehicle's first stage.

One of the seven-NAVSTAR 4-was rated marginal due to subsystem failures, and it needed extensive support from ground controllers to remain in operation during 1989. It was finally removed from the operational GPS constellation in August 1989.

six more NAVSTAR II satellites
The GPS constellation consisted of six Block I and three Block II satellites before six more Block II spacecraft were added to the constellation.

four Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) missions
Admittedly, the first two SDI missions were launched on NASA-sponsored vehicles, and NASA's contract with McDonnell-Douglas remained in effect until the third SDI payload (DELTA STAR) was processed. The fourth SDI mission was launched on a Commercial DELTA II vehicle. Launch vehicles aside, the payloads and missions were military.

countdown for the DELTA 181 mission
The countdown marked the second launch attempt for the DELTA 181 mission. The first launch attempt was scrubbed at 2219Z on 4 February 1988 due to a second stage fuel tank valve malfunction.

The LIDS was placed onboard to measure energy over a wide optical spectrum.

The ATLAS G/CENTAUR vehicle was 137 feet 7 inches long. Its booster/sustainer assembly generated a total thrust of 437,500 pounds of thrust at lift-off, and the CENTAUR upper stage provided 33,000 pounds of thrust. The gross weight of the vehicle-minus spacecraft-was 356,120 pounds.

The FLTSATCOM-G weighed about 4,977 pounds on the ground and 2,693 pounds in geosynchronous orbit after its apogee kick motor propellants had been expended. The spacecraft was seven feet six inches wide and 22 feet 10 inches long. Its deployed solar array measured 43 feet five inches. The satellite was equipped with standard UHF and X-Band communications, and it also carried an experimental module for extremely high frequency (EHF) communications. Though the EHF module only had a test life expectancy of two years, the UHF suite of communications had an operational life expectancy of at least ten years. The FLTSATCOM-G was built by TRW's Defense and Space Systems Group.

the mission was delayed several months
Due to similarities in the ATLAS and DELTA main engineering electronics relay boxes and wiring harnesses, the FLTSATCOM F-7 launch was slipped from 22 May 1986 to 5 December 1986.

struck by lightning and destroyed
Following the vehicle's lift-off at 2122:00.768Z on the 26th, four strokes of lightning were recorded by two 16 mm cameras, a NASA video van and local TV station equipment covering the launch. Physical evidence and other information revealed that the fourth stroke of lightning struck the ATLAS G/CENTAUR just before the vehicle's computer issued a positive yaw command. The vehicle began to heel over about a tenth of a second later (e.g., at T plus 48.46 seconds), and the vehicle started to break up at T plus 50.7 seconds. The spacecraft separated from the vehicle at T plus 50.96 seconds. Subsequently, destruct commands were sent, but they proved fruitless. The flight ended as a result of vehicle break-up.

workstand was pulled off
The workstand had been fouled with an improperly plugged overhead light power cord. As the platform retracted, the cord pulled taut, and the line tipped the workstand over the edge of the platform. The cord broke loose, releasing the workstand to tumble on the platform below.

The facilities included Complex 36, Hangar J, Hangar K, Paint Oil Lockers J and K, Storage Building 55010, Barrel Storage Area 55040, Storage Building 1737, Little J (Building 55000) and Little K (Building 55001). All ground support equipment, space test equipment and spare parts had already been transferred to General Dynamics Space Systems Division (GDSS) via a "trade and barter" agreement in the CRRES/AC-69 contract.

NASA payloads
Under the agreement's implementation plan, signed by the KSC Director and ESMC Commander in late January 1990, NASA did not intend to participate in day-to-day launch vehicle preparations. NASA would be apprised of work schedules, test results, crew certification, etc., and a senior management assessment team would be present during the launch countdown. While a NASA Mission Director would be present to provide the go/no-go decision on launch day, the Air Force would direct the launch contractor for any NASA payloads launched on Air Force-procured vehicles.

launch pads
In the interest of clarity, we will examine only the principal changes to Pad 36A. Pad 36B was inherently a commercial launch facility, and its refurbishment had very little impact on military space operations at Complex 36.

certificate of acceptance for Pad 36A
The first military ATLAS II/CENTAUR mission was launched by General Dynamics from Pad 36A on 11 February 1992. The launch occurred more than a month before the government's acceptance certificate for the launch site was signed.

first two military ATLAS II/CENTAUR missions
The military missions were not the first flights for the ATLAS II at the Cape. The first Commercial ATLAS II/CENTAUR was launched from Pad 36B on 7 December 1991. It carried the EUTELSAT II, a European telecommunications satellite, into a 455 x 22,216-nautical-mile transfer orbit on that date.

Rocketdyne MA-5A booster and sustainer engines
The ATLAS G booster/sustainer provided a combined thrust of 437,500 pounds of thrust at sea level. The booster's two Rocketdyne MA-5 engines provided 377,500 pounds of that total power, and the sustainer's single MA-5 provided the remaining 60,000 pounds of thrust. The ATLAS II booster/sustainer was configured similarly, but with the increased thrust noted.

new CENTAUR's tank
A more improved vehicle, the ATLAS IIA/CENTAUR, had a CENTAUR upper stage equipped with two Pratt & Whitney RL10A-4 engines rated at 20,800 pounds of thrust each. The first ATLAS IIA/CENTAUR was launched on a commercial flight from the Cape on 10 June 1992.

two unsuccessful launch attempts
The launch attempt on February 6th was scrubbed due to excessive winds. A second launch attempt on the 8th was scrubbed due to excessively low tanking temperatures noted during the CENTAUR's upper stage fueling sequence.

Three earlier DSCS III spacecraft had been orbited for developmental purposes, and two operational DCSC IIIs had been orbited via the Shuttle. The satellite launched on 11 February 1992 was deployed as an operational communications relay between command posts and U.S. military forces in the field.

activation of the 3rd Space Launch Squadron on 2 July 1992
The squadron's activation was announced to have taken place on 2 July, but the activation ceremony was actually held on 3 August 1992.

the first four-stage STARBIRD vehicle
The STARBIRD booster consisted of a TALOS first stage, a SERGEANT second stage and two ORBUS 1 upper stages. The 57-foot-long vehicle was guided with inertial sensors and a microprocessor. Fixed fins were used to control the first stage, and ailerons were used on the second stage. Air and jet vanes controlled the vehicle during its second stage burn. Third and fourth stage pitch and yaw were accomplished by a gimbaled nozzle, but their roll was controlled by a cold gas Attitude Control System (ACS) housed in the fourth stage. A cold gas control system was used to stabilize the payload scoreboard in relation to the LACE/UVPI satellite used in the experiment. The STARBIRD vehicle was built by the Space Data Division of the Orbital Sciences Corporation.

full complement of tracking radars, telemetry and optical systems
A total of five radars on Merritt Island, the Cape, Patrick and Jonathan Dickinson Missile Tracking Annex were tasked to track the RED TIGRESS vehicle. Two surveillance radars also covered the launch danger area for range safety purposes. The Eastern Range's optical support for RED TIGRESS flights (e.g., Contraves units, Instrumented Ground Optical Recorders, Distant Object Attitude Measurement Systems, Intermediate Focal Length Optical Trackers and ITEK units) rivaled the coverage given any major launch operation. The Cape provided command/destruct capabilities, and TEL-IV and Jonathan Dickinson handled telemetry.

A failure analysis revealed that the ARIES' onboard computer had been loaded with ground test software instead of the vehicle's flight program. This "operator oversight" ruined the mission.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list