Reviewing Jupiter’s – Place in Space Age History

Reviewing Jupiter's - Place in Space Age History

Test and Deployment

Jupiter AM-24 in LC 6 Squaretop Gantry (Foreground) and Juno II AM-19A on LC 5 (Background), October 1959

Reviewing Jupiter's - Place in Space Age History

The year 1959 was Jupiter’s busiest, with 15 IRBM test flights and four Juno II orbital attempts.  Thirteen of the Jupiter flights succeeded.  Several succeeded spectacularly, dropping their nose cones within a few hundred meters of their targets after flights of 2,400 kilometers (1,300 nautical miles).  One achieved the feat after a 2,963 kilometer (1,600 nautical mile) flight.

Highlights of the testing program included the first flight of a Chrysler-built Jupiter, CM-21, on January 21, 1959, the launch and recovery of primates Able and Baker during the May 28, 1959 AM-18 Bioflight 2 mission, and the first full range, aforementioned 2,963 km tactical prototype test flight by missile AM-31 on October 21, 1959.  Three short range flights successfully hit targets 556 to 1,231 kilometers (300 to 665 nautical miles) downrange.

Jupiters flew from all four pads at ABMA’s Missile Firing Laboratory during 1959.   Two Redstone crew training launches also took place during the year from LC 26A.

CM-22 at LC 26B, February 1959

Reviewing Jupiter's - Place in Space Age History

Four Chrysler missiles flew during 1959.  The first three, CM-21, CM-22, and CM-22A all flew successfully, but suffered slight targeting errors that placed their nose cones 5 to 9 kilometers (2.8 to 5 nautical miles) off target.  The first two suffered vernier thrust termination squib failures.  The third was caused by a drifting gyroscope.

Jupiter missile CM-33, launched November 4, 1959, was the first completely successful Chrysler Jupiter and the first Jupiter to be launched without a static firing at Redstone Arsenal.  It landed within 1,000 meters (0.56 nautical miles) of its target.

During the landmark Bioflight 2 mission, Able, a 3.2kg rhesus monkey, and Baker, a 0.5kg squirrel monkey, rode inside special capsules placed inside the Jupiter nose cone.  Both female primates were exposed to 38g deceleration during reentry after a period of about 9 minutes of weightlessness.  They survived the 2,411 kilometer (1,302 nautical mile) flight and were recovered by the U.S. Navy. 

Both monkeys became instant celebrities, appearing on the cover of Life magazine.  Unfortunately, Able died five days later from anesthesia administered as part of a minor procedure to remove implanted electrodes.  Life magazine dramatically detailed Able’s death with photos of an Army surgeon attempting mouth to mouth resuscitation.  Baker, who sensors hinted may have slept through part of the flight, lived until 1984.

Two Jupiter missile failures occurred during 1959.  AM-12 suffered a thrust control failure during its May 6, 1959 flight and landed 128 kilometers (69 nautical miles) short of its 2,400 kilometer range target.  The second failure was much more spectacular.

AM-23 Failure

Reviewing Jupiter's - Place in Space Age History

Only two months after the infamous Juno II AM-16 failure off LC 5, Jupiter missile AM-23 did a similar cartwheel seconds after liftoff.  AM-23, carrying a Bioflight 3 payload that included 14 mice, lifted off from LC 26B on September 15, 1959 at 16:45 EST, following 12 hours and 15 minutes of countdown delays.  The missile was immediately in trouble, wobbling as it rose.  Its kerosene tank suddenly ruptured just before it flipped upside down and, 14 seconds after liftoff, began to break up.  A failed silver solder connection to a pressure sphere caused the failure.  The resulting explosion and debris damaged Juno II AM-19A standing on LC 5, but the damage was repairable.  AM-19A went on to successfully orbit Explorer 7 on October 13, 1959.

After the failure, Jupiter flight testing accelerated.  Eight Jupiter launches took place between September 30, 1959 and February 4, 1960.  All were essentially successful.  The latter launch, by AM-30, was the 29th and final R&D missile test flight.  Twenty-two of the R&D flights succeeded.

Also read: Firefly Alpha Data Sheet


Reviewing Jupiter's - Place in Space Age History

CTL IOC Missile with Flower Petal Hanger

ABMA’s Jupiter development had succeeded, but deployment lagged.  April 1958 plans called for placing three squadrons of 15 missiles each in France, but newly elected Charles de Gaulle refused to accept the plan. 

Although Jupiter did not have a deployment site, planning continued.  The Strategic Air Command activated its 864th Strategic Missile Squadron (SMS), later renamed Technical Training Squadron (TTS), on January 15, 1958 at ABMA. This unit began training in March.  Two additional squadrons, the 865th and the 866th, were also activated during 1958. 

ABMA delivered the first IOC (Initial Operating Capability) Jupiter, Missile 101, to the Air Force on August 28, 1958.  Missiles 102, 103, and 104 were delivered during September and Missile 105 in early October.   All five were allotted for crew training purposes.

Jupiter Production Line

Reviewing Jupiter's - Place in Space Age History

Chrysler delivered its first IOC Jupiter, Missile 201, on April 6, 1959.  ABMA delivered the last of its IOC Jupiter missiles in October 1959, after manufacturing 22 100-series “Block 1” IRBMs.  Chrysler produced Jupiters until the end of December 1960, delivering 40 200-series missiles.  Total production averaged three missiles per month during the IOC delivery period.

In April 1959, after months of negotiations, the Air Force began planning to deploy two Jupiter IRBM squadrons in southeast Italy in the countryside northwest of Taranto at the top of Italy’s “heel”.  The two squadrons would be deployed at 10 sites, with three missiles per site.  Italian Air Force crews would operate the missiles, but U.S. Air Force teams would control the 1.44 megaton nuclear warheads.

During October 1959, the U.S. and Turkey signed an agreement allowing deployment of one Jupiter squadron among five sites in the regions around Gigli Air Force Base near Izmir, on Turkey’s western, Aegean Sea coast.  U.S. crews manned the initial missile sites, but Turkish Air Force crews soon replaced them.

The two Italian squadrons were activated between July 1960 and June 1961.  Turkey’s Jupiters were activated between mid 1961 and April 1962.  Each squadron had 15 missiles standing on launchers and a handful, perhaps two or three per squadron, of “maintenance float” missiles.

CM-209 CTL Preps Showing Cable Erector System

The triple-missile emplacements were located about 30 miles apart.  Approximately 15 personnel manned each emplacement.  Each missile stood on a launch pedestal with the base of the missile enclosed in a flower petal shelter composed of hinged, wedge shaped metal panels.  Propellant lines were always connected, allowing missiles to stand on 15-minute combat readiness.  During the 15 minute countdown, propellant would be loaded, the guidance system would be aligned, and targeting information would be commanded.

Each squadron had a rear support area with liquid oxygen and nitrogen generating plants.  Tanker trucks delivered the always-evaporating cryogenic liquids to emplacements several times a week to refill on-site tanker trucks.

About 20 vehicles supported each emplacement.  These included trailers for kerosene and liquid oxygen, generator trucks, a power distribution truck, and a command trailer.  Initial Army plans had called for fully mobile deployment methods, but the U.S. Air Force deleted the mobility requirement in November 1958.  As a result, a single control trailer ended up controlling three missiles rather than just one.   Launch transporters and missile erectors were also no longer required.  ABMA’s mobile methods included development of a lightweight missile erection system that used a long boom, cables, and a winch rather than costly hydraulic systems.  A simple one-time cryogenic (dry ice) cooler was used instead of an air conditioning system to keep the aft section guidance equipment cool prior to launch.

Four Italian Jupiters, armed with nuclear warheads, were struck by lightning during 1961-62.  Two of the strikes partially armed the warheads.  Further strikes were averted by the installation of lightning tower arrays at Jupiter missile sites.

Cuban Missile Crises

Reviewing Jupiter's - Place in Space Age History

In April 1962, Nikita Khrushchev vacationed in the Crimea, across the Black sea from Turkey.  There Khrushchev gained an understanding of the threat the Turkish Jupiters posed to the Soviet Union.  When he returned to Moscow, Khrushchev proposed deploying Soviet missiles in Cuba in response.

By September 1962, SS-4 missiles had arrived in Cuba and missile launching sites were under construction.  A U.S. U-2 reconnaissance plane discovered the sites on October 14, triggering the Cuban Missile Crises.

During the Crises, as the U.S. established a naval blockade around Cuba and made preparations to attack the island nation, Anatoly Dobrynin and Robert Kennedy met several times to discuss resolution.  Soon, the Soviets agreed to withdraw their Cuban missiles if the U.S. agreed never to attack Cuba.  The U.S. also agreed, but only informally, to withdraw the Jupiter missiles from Turkey.  The Jupiter missiles were removed by April 1963, from both Turkey and Italy. 

Also read: Ariane 4 Data Sheet

Final Flights

Reviewing Jupiter's - Place in Space Age History

Jupiter Crew Training Launch from Pad 26A
After completing Jupiter’s R&D test flights, the ABMA team performed one last “Live Systems Test” launch on October 20, 1960.  The launch used tactical ground support equipment for the first time.  An IOC missile, CM-217, performed the successful test flight from LC 26A.
Six additional “Crew Training Launches”, set up and flown by NATO crews from LC 26A, were performed between April 1961 and January 1963.  Tactical IOC missiles performed the launches.  All of the launches flew safely down range.  Only one, by CM-114 on April 18, 1962, failed to reach its target.  The failure, which left the warhead 230 nautical miles short of its planned 1,514 nautical mile range target, was caused by early fuel depletion.  it was the only failure among the final 15 Jupiters. 
The final Jupiter launch, performed by Missile CM-106 on January 22, 1963, was the 36th Jupiter, 46th Jupiter or Juno II, and the 102nd and final launch of any type flown from ABMA’s eight year old Missile Firing Laboratory.  By that date, more than a year had passed since ABMA had ended its support of the Jupiter program.  Many of the original Jupiter developers were by-then working for NASA, on the Saturn program.

Jupiter Launch Log

03/01/57  Jupiter  AM-1A  R/D           CC 5    F  Tail Heating 74
04/26/57  Jupiter  AM-1B  R/D           CC 5    F  Prop Slosh 93s
05/31/57  Jupiter  AM-1   R/D           CC 5       1st IRBM Success
08/28/57  Jupiter  AM-2   R/D           CC 26A            
10/23/57  Jupiter  AM-3   R/D           CC 26B          
11/27/57  Jupiter  AM-3A  R/D           CC 26B  F  Turbopump 101s
12/19/57  Jupiter  AM-4   R/D           CC 26B  F  Turbopump 116.87s
05/18/58  Jupiter  AM-5   Gaslight      CC 26B     1st RV Recovery
07/17/58  Jupiter  AM-6B  Gaslight      CC 26B     1st All-Inertial
08/27/58  Jupiter  AM-7   R/D           CC 26A            
10/10/58  Jupiter  AM-9   R/D           CC 26B  F  Prop Leak 49s
12/13/58  Jupiter  AM-13  Bioflight 1   CC 26B     Gordo no Recover
01/22/59  Jupiter  CM-21  Tactical Test CC 5         
02/27/59  Jupiter  CM-22  R/D           CC 26B          
04/04/59  Jupiter  CM-22A R/D           CC 26B             
05/07/59  Jupiter  AM-12  R/D           CC 26B  F  T-Cntrl, 69NM Short
05/14/59  Jupiter  AM-17  R/D           CC 5         
05/28/59  Jupiter  AM-18  Bioflight 2   CC 26B     Able & Baker
07/10/59  Jupiter  AM-15  R/D           CC 26B               
08/27/59  Jupiter  AM-19  R/D           CC 5         
09/15/59  Jupiter  AM-23  Bioflight 3   CC 26B  F  Press Sphere 13s
10/01/59  Jupiter  AM-24  R/D           CC 6         
10/22/59  Jupiter  AM-31  R/D           CC 26A     Tactical Prototype
11/05/59  Jupiter  CM-33  R/D           CC 6         
11/19/59  Jupiter  AM-25  R/D           CC 26B             
12/10/59  Jupiter  AM-32  R/D           CC 6         
12/17/59  Jupiter  AM-26  R/D           CC 26B               
01/26/60  Jupiter  AM-28  R/D           CC 26B               
02/05/60  Jupiter  AM-30  R/D           CC 6       Final R&D Test
10/20/60  Jupiter  CM-217 LST           CC 26A     1st Tactical GSE
04/22/61  Jupiter  CM-209 CTL           CC 26A     Crew Training
08/05/61  Jupiter  CM-218 CTL           CC 26A               
12/06/61  Jupiter  CM-115 CTL           CC 26A             
04/18/62  Jupiter  CM-114 CTL           CC 26A  F  Prop Dplt, 230NM Short
08/01/62  Jupiter  CM-111 CTL           CC 26A               
01/22/63  Jupiter  CM-106 CTL           CC 26A     Last MFL Launch

Juno 2 Launch Log

12/06/58  Juno-2  AM-11   Pioneer 3     CC 5    F  Cutoff 3.7s Early
03/03/59  Juno-2  AM-14   Pioneer 4     CC 5       1st U.S. Sun Orbit
07/16/59  Juno-2  AM-16   Explorer S1   CC 5    F  Inverter Failure 13s
08/14/59  Juno-2  AM-19B  Beacon 2      CC 26B  F  Control Loss Post S1
10/13/59  Juno-2  AM-19A  Explorer 7    CC 5         
03/23/60  Juno-2  AM-19C  Explorer S46  CC 26B  F  Stg2 Motor Fail 
11/03/60  Juno-2  AM-19D  Explorer 8    CC 26B               
02/25/61  Juno-2  AM-19F  Explorer S45  CC 26B  F  Cable Tangled U/S
04/27/61  Juno-2  AM-19E  Explorer 11   CC 26B               
05/24/61  Juno-2  AM-19G  Explorer S45A CC 26B  F  P/S Fail After S1


by Ed Kyle, Updated 7/31/2011

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