Encyclopedia Astronautica
1965.07.13 - Little Joe II failure investigation


A Little Joe II failure investigation presentation was made at MSC July 13 in which General Dynamics/ Convair (GD/C) and MSC's Engineering and Development (E&D) Directorate presented results of independent failure investigations of the mishap which occurred during Apollo Mission A-003 (Boilerplate 22) on June 22, 1965, at WSMR.

The GD/C investigation results were presented by J. B. Hurt, Little Joe II Program Manager, in the form of flight movies and a slide talk. The data made the following points:

- At approximately one second after liftoff, the Fin IV elevon moved in a direction to cause the observed clockwise rotation and at 2.5 seconds reached the fully deflected position where it remained until vehicle breakup.
- Although computer simulations of the flight with Fin IV fully deflected did not precisely duplicate the observed dynamic motions, sufficient correlation existed to conclude that Fins I, II, and III functioned normally while Fin IV alone caused loss of the mission.
- The complete attitude control system, exclusive of the Fin IV hydro-electrical servo loop, performed correctly as designed.
- The most probable cause for the failure was a malfunction in Fin IV hydro-electrical servo-loop due to an internal mechanical failure of the servo-valve.

The E&D investigation results were presented by O. P. Littleton of the Guidance and Control Division. In summary, results of the E&D investigation were stated to have confirmed the findings of GD/C although different computer methods were used. Littleton agreed with the conclusions of GD/C, but emphasized that an electrical malfunction within the Fin IV hydro-electrical servo-loop could not be discounted as a possible source of failure at that time.

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