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.
Launch of Mariner 1
|Mission type||Venus flyby|
|Operator||NASA / JPL|
|Mission duration||4 minutes, 53 seconds|
Failed to orbit
based on Ranger Block I
|Manufacturer||Jet Propulsion Laboratory|
|Launch mass||202.8 kilograms (447 lb)|
|Power||220 watts (at Venus encounter)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||July 22, 1962, 09:21:23UTC|
|Rocket||Atlas LV-3 Agena-B|
|Launch site||Cape Canaveral LC-12|
Why it was destroyedEdit
This section uses too much jargon, which needs explaining or simplifying.
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. Few years later, Arthur C. Clarke wrote that Mariner 1 was "wrecked by the most expensive hyphen in history".
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- The Promise of Space, Arthur C. Clarke, 1968, p. 225.
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