Atlas Missile 20D

General Dynamics Missile Serial Number:   58-2191

General Dynamics Manufacturing Number:   20D

Air Force Missile Tail Number:   20D

Missile Acceptance Date:   8/31/1959

Missile Delivery Date:   9/1/1959

ICBM Squadron Number:   N/A

ICBM Squadron Site Assignment:   N/A

Missile Destination:   Atlantic Missile Range

Missile Mission:   Lunar Probe

Missile Launch Date:   11/26/1959

Missile Launch Payload:   Pioneer P-3 Lunar Probe

Missile Launch Location:   Stand 14

Missile Launch Outcome:   Failure

Notes:   Maiden flight of Atlas-Able IV-B configuration. At T+45 seconds a shock was recorded by the Atlas's rate gyros followed by the fiberglass payload fairing breaking off of the launch vehicle. The third stage and payload were stripped away after being subjected to severe aerodynamic loads while passing Max Q and the second stage sustained damage followed by loss of its telemetry at T+104 seconds. The Atlas booster itself was unaffected by the incident and completed its burn on schedule, impacting in the Gulf of Guinea. The failure was traced to an improperly vented payload shroud that broke apart when the air pressure inside started exceeding the external pressure as the atmosphere thinned with altitude.

Atlas 20D Photo 1