Encyclopedia Astronautica
Pioneer 3-4



pioneer4.jpg
Pioneer 4
Credit: NASA
American lunar flyby probe. 2 launches, 1958.12.06 (Pioneer 3) to 1959.03.03 (Pioneer 4). Smaller than the previous Pioneers, Pioneer 3 and 4 each carried only a single experiment to detect cosmic radiation.

Both vehicles were planned to fly by the moon and return data about the Earth and Moon's radiation environment.

Following the unsuccessful USAF/NASA Pioneer 0, 1, and 2 lunar missions, the U. S. Army and NASA launched two more lunar missions. The launch of Pioneer 3 failed when the launch vehicle first's stage cut-off prematurely. Although Pioneer 3 did not achieve escape velocity, it reached an altitude of 102,332 km and discovered a second radiation belt around Earth. The launch of Pioneer 4 was successful, and Pioneer 4 was the first American spacecraft to escape Earth's gravitational pull as it passed within 58,983 km of the moon (about twice the planned flyby altitude). The spacecraft did return data on the Moon radiation environment, although the desire to be the first man-made vehicle to fly past the moon was lost when the Soviet Union's Luna 1 passed by the Moon several weeks before Pioneer 4. The spacecraft was battery powered and used passive thermal control (a paint pattern on the external surface of its Fiberglass structure). The payload included two Geiger counters and a camera trigger mechanism as a test (no camera was carried).

Gross mass: 6.00 kg (13.20 lb).
Height: 0.51 m (1.67 ft).
First Launch: 1958.12.06.
Last Launch: 1959.03.03.
Number: 2 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Jupiter The Jupiter IRBM was developed for the US Army. By the time development was complete, the mission and the missile was assigned to the US Air Force, which had its own nearly identical missile, the Thor. Jupiters were stationed in Turkey and Italy in the early 1960's, but withdrawn in secret exchange for the withdrawal of Soviet R-5 missiles from Cuba. The Jupiter was used as the first stage of the relatively unsuccessful Juno II launch vehicle, and proposed for the Juno III and Juno IV. Jupiter tooling and engines were used to build the much larger Juno V / Saturn I launch vehicle. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Jupiter American intermediate range ballistic missile. The Jupiter IRBM was developed for the US Army. By the time development was complete, the mission and the missile was assigned to the US Air Force, which had its own nearly identical missile, the Thor. Jupiters were stationed in Turkey and Italy in the early 1960's, but withdrawn in secret exchange for the withdrawal of Soviet R-5 missiles from Cuba. The Jupiter was used as the first stage of the relatively unsuccessful Juno II launch vehicle, and proposed for the Juno III and Juno IV. Jupiter tooling and engines were used to build the much larger Juno V / Saturn I launch vehicle. More...
  • Juno II American orbital launch vehicle. Satellite launcher derived from Jupiter IRBM. Basic 4 stage vehicle consisted of 1 x Jupiter + 1 x Cluster stage 2 + 1 x Cluster stage 3 + 1 x RTV Motor More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • JPL American agency;manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, USA. More...
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...
  • US Army American agency overseeing development of spacecraft. US Army, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • Pioneer The Jet Propulsion Laboratory Pioneer series were the first US probes sent towards the moon. Later Pioneers explored the heliocentric space environment and were the first spacecraft to reach the outer planets and to escape from the solar system. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Ertel , Ivan D; Morse , Mary Louise; et al, The Apollo Spacecraft Chronology Vol I - IV NASA SP-4009, NASA, 1966-1974. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Launch Log, October 1998. Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC5 Redstone, Jupiter launch complex. Pad 5 supported its first Jupiter A launch on 19 July 1956. In addition to Redstone and Jupiter launches, the complex supported Explorer and Pioneer missions and all six Redstone /Mercury suborbital flights. On 31 January 1964, Complexes 5 and 6 were reassigned to become part of the USAF Space Museum. More...

Pioneer 3-4 Chronology


1958 December 6 - . 05:44 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC5. LV Family: Jupiter. Launch Vehicle: Juno II. LV Configuration: Juno II AM-11. FAILURE: First Stage shut down too early. Partial Failure.. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Pioneer 3 - . Mass: 6.00 kg (13.20 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Pioneer. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer 3-4. Decay Date: 1958-12-07 . USAF Sat Cat: 111 . COSPAR: 1958-Theta-1. Failed to reach moon; provided radiation data. Pioneer III, the third U.S.-IGY intended lunar probe under the direction of NASA with the Army acting as executive agent, was launched from the Atlantic Missile Range by a Juno II rocket. The primary objective, to place the 12.95 pound scientific payload in the vicinity of the moon, failed. Pioneer III reached an altitude of approximately 70,000 miles and revealed that the earth's radiation belt comprised at least two distinct bands.

1959 March 3 - . 05:10 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC5. LV Family: Jupiter. Launch Vehicle: Juno II. LV Configuration: Juno II AM-14.
  • Pioneer 4 - . Mass: 6.00 kg (13.20 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Pioneer. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer 3-4. USAF Sat Cat: 113 . COSPAR: 1959-Nu-1. The fourth U.S.-IGY lunar probe effort, Pioneer IV, a joint project of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency and Jet Propulsion Laboratory under the direction of NASA, was launched by a Juno II rocket from the Atlantic Missile Range. Intended to impact on the lunar surface, Pioneer IV achieved earth-moon trajectory, passing within 60,200 km of the moon before going into permanent orbit around the sun.

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