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Project Fire
Model Type:  Characteristic Test



Project FIRE was a research program established to measure plasma characteristics on re-entry bodies of the Apollo configuration at relative velocities of 37,000 ft/sec (over 25,000 mph).  The three basic goals of the experiments were  fully met.  They were to measure total and radiative heat transfer and the radio signal attenuation, and to establish materials behavior.  Basic knowledge of materials response during hypersonic re-entry was gained which permitted the optimum design of heat shields and provided a maximum of protection with a minimum of weight.

Both FIRE launches were successful.  Flight 1 was launched on 14 April 1964 and Flight 2 was launched on 22 May 1965.  The FIRE vehicle was composed of an Atlas D Launch Vehicle manufactured by General Dynamics/Convair, the Velocity Package manufactured by the LTV Astronautics Division of LTV Aerospace Corporation, and a Re-entry Package manufactured by Republic Aviation Corporation.

The launch vehicle placed the spacecraft into a ballistic trajectory along the Eastern Test Range;  the Velocity Package then oriented to the proper attitude and, at a pre-determined time, ignited the solid propellant rocket motor driving the Re-entry Package back into the atmosphere some 5,000 miles down range near Ascension Island.

The basic structure of the Velocity Package consisted of two circular shells, one within the other.  A metalite shelf located between the outer and inner shell sections provided support for the major part of the Velocity Package equipment.  A Velocity Package Adapter provided the structural and electrical interface between the Velocity Package and the Launch Vehicle and the Re-entry Package.  Propulsion for the Velocity Package was provided by an ANTARES II A5 (ABL X-259d) solid propellant rocket motor manufactured by the Allegheny Ballistic Laboratory.  A heat shroud, manufactured for LTV by the Douglas Aircraft Company, protected the spacecraft from aerodynamic heating during the boost ascent.

The Velocity Package also included a guidance system for maintaining stability and control, a telemetry system for transmitting flight data, and an ignition/destruct system.


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