Encyclopedia Astronautica
Pioneer P 3


American lunar orbiter. 4 launches, 1959.11.26 (Pioneer (P 3)) to 1960.12.15 (Pioneer (P 31)). The least successful lunar spacecraft; none even achieved orbit in four attempts.

Gross mass: 172 kg (379 lb).
First Launch: 1959.11.26.
Last Launch: 1960.12.15.
Number: 4 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Atlas The Atlas rocket, originally developed as America's first ICBM, was the basis for most early American space exploration and was that country's most successful medium-lift commercial launch vehicle. It launched America's first astronaut into orbit; the first generations of spy satellites; the first lunar orbiters and landers; the first probes to Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn; and was America's most successful commercial launcher of communications satellites. Its innovative stage-and-a-half and 'balloon tank' design provided the best dry-mass fraction of any launch vehicle ever built. It was retired in 2004 after 576 launches in a 47-year career. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Atlas The Atlas rocket, originally developed as America's first ICBM, was the basis for most early American space exploration and was that country's most successful medium-lift commercial launch vehicle. It launched America's first astronaut into orbit; the first generations of spy satellites; the first lunar orbiters and landers; the first probes to Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn; and was America's most successful commercial launcher of communications satellites. Its innovative stage-and-a-half and 'balloon tank' design provided the best dry-mass fraction of any launch vehicle ever built. It was retired in 2004 after 576 launches in a 47-year career. More...
  • Atlas Able American orbital launch vehicle. Atlas with upper stage based on Vanguard second stage. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, 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
  • 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.
  • Bramscher, Robert G, "A Survey of Launch Vehicle Failures", Spaceflight, 1980, Volume 22, page 351.
  • Lockheed Martin Coporation, Atlas Family Fact Sheets, September 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 LC14 Atlas launch complex. The complex was built for the Atlas ballistic missile program. Launch sites 11 to 14 were accepted between August 1957 and mid-April 1958. After its final Atlas missile launch, Complex 14 was converted into an Atlas /Agena launch complex, and later turned over to NASA. Complex 14 supported 32 Atlas and Atlas/Agena missions, including four manned Mercury missions and seven unmanned Gemini target vehicle launches. Complexes 11, 12 and 14 were deactivated in 1967. Complex 14 and the gantry on Complex 13 were declared national historic landmarks in April 1984. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC12 Atlas launch complex. The complex was built for the Atlas ballistic missile program. Launch sites 11 to 14 were accepted between August 1957 and mid-April 1958. Complex 12 supported its first Atlas launch on 10 January 1958, and it supported nine Ranger missions and four Mariner missions between 12 August 1961 and 15 June 1967. Complexes 11, 12 and 14 were deactivated in 1967, and Complex 13 was deactivated in April 1978. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC13 Atlas launch complex. Originally built in 1958 for the Atlas ballistic missile program, Complex 13 supported 51 Atlas and Atlas/Agena launches from 1958 to 1978. More...

Pioneer P 3 Chronology


1959 November 26 - . 07:26 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC14. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Able. LV Configuration: Atlas Able 20D / Able-5. FAILURE: Payload shroud failed after 45 sec, broke away prematurely.. Failed Stage: S.
  • Pioneer (P 3) - . Payload: Pioneer P 3 / Able IVB. Mass: 168 kg (370 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Pioneer. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer P 3. Decay Date: 1959-11-26 . COSPAR: F591126A. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi). An intended lunar probe launched from the Atlantic Missile Range by an Atlas-Able booster disintegrated about 45 seconds later when the protective sheath covering the payload detached prematurely. The probe was sponsored by NASA, developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and launched by the Air Force Ballistic Missile Division.

1960 February 15 - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC13. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Able. LV Configuration: Atlas D / Able-5. FAILURE: Vehicle exploded in static firing.. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Pioneer (P 31) - . Payload: Pioneer P 31. Nation: USA. Program: Pioneer. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer P 3. Decay Date: 1960-02-15 . COSPAR: F600215A.

1960 September 25 - . 15:13 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC12. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Able. LV Configuration: Atlas Able 80D / Able-5. FAILURE: Second stage exploded.. Failed Stage: 2.
  • Pioneer (P 30) - . Payload: Pioneer P 30 / Able VA. Mass: 175 kg (385 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Pioneer. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer P 3. Decay Date: 1960-09-25 . COSPAR: F600925A. Apogee: 1,290 km (800 mi). Summary: An attempt to launch a Pioneer satellite into lunar orbit failed when one of the upper stages of the Atlas- Able rocket malfunctioned..

1960 December 15 - . 09:10 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC12. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Able. LV Configuration: Atlas Able 91D / Able-5. FAILURE: Atlas exploded 70 seconds after liftoff.. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Pioneer (P 31) - . Payload: Pioneer P 31 / Able VB. Mass: 175 kg (385 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Pioneer. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Pioneer P 3. Decay Date: 1960-12-15 . COSPAR: F601215A. Apogee: 13 km (8 mi). Summary: The final launch in the Pioneer lunar probe program was unsuccessful; the Atlas-Able booster rocket went out of control and exploded at an altitude of 12,200 m off Cape Canaveral..

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