Mariner 1

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Mariner 1
Atlas Agena with Mariner 1.jpg
Launch of Mariner 1
Mission typeVenus flyby
OperatorNASA / JPL
Mission duration4 minutes, 53 seconds
Failed to orbit
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeMariner[source?]
based on Ranger Block I
ManufacturerJet Propulsion Laboratory
Launch mass202.8 kilograms (447 lb)
Power220 watts (at Venus encounter)
Start of mission
Launch dateJuly 22, 1962, 09:21:23 (1962-07-22UTC09:21:23Z) UTC
RocketAtlas LV-3 Agena-B
Launch siteCape Canaveral LC-12
 

Mariner 1 was a NASA spacecraft. It was the first spacecraft in the Mariner program. Mariner 1 was planned to do a Venus fly-by. However, it was destroyed by the Range Safety Officer 293 seconds after launch. It was destroyed because the rocket moved off course and was a safety risk. Mariner 1 was followed by Mariner 2.

Why it was destroyed[change | change source]

The Atlas-Agena rocket was controlled by a hand-written formula:

Which means "the nth smoothed value of the time derivative of a radius R". However, for this mission, an overline (‾) was missing in the formula, which looks something like this:

Because the smoothing function was missing, the rocket became sensitive at minor changes. Then, the rocket became out of control and destroyed by the Range Safety Officer.[1][2][3] Few years later, Arthur C. Clarke wrote that Mariner 1 was "wrecked by the most expensive hyphen in history".[4]

References[change | change source]

  1. Neumann, Peter (May 27, 1989). "Mariner I – no holds BARred". Risks Digest. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  2. Ceruzzi, Paul E. Ceruzzi (1989). Beyond the Limits: Flight Enters the Computer Age. ISBN 978-0262530828.
  3. "Planetary Probe History". Space FAQ. August 2013. Retrieved September 9, 2016 – via FAQs.org.
  4. The Promise of Space, Arthur C. Clarke, 1968, p. 225.

Other websites[change | change source]