Spectacular lift-off of Pioneer 5 from pad 17A at
Cape Canaveral on 11 March 1960.
|The forgotten mission of Pioneer 5|
By Joel Powell
|Forty five years ago, in March of 1960, NASA launched a modest 94.8 pound sphere on a planetary trajectory toward the orbit of Venus. The objective of the Pioneer 5 mission was not the planet itself (Venus was not in position for an encounter), but rather a survey of environmental conditions in interplanetary space to demonstrate the feasibility of communicating with a spacecraft at great distances. At a time in the early Space Age when the farthest radio contact in space was barely beyond the Moon, the solar-powered Pioneer set a communication distance record of 22.5 million miles after surviving for three-and-a-half months after launch.|
The Thor-Able IV launch vehicle of Pioneer 5 resided on pad 17A for five months after being stacked in October 1959.
Solar power paddles of Pioneer 5 are extended during a deployment test inside upper level of the aantrv tower.
Scientific instruments and primitive radio equipment of Pioneer 5 are revealed in this cutaway illustration.
White and black painted sections on the 26 inch spherical Pioneer 5 payload helped to regulate internal temperature.
The radio telescope at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire, England, which was used by NASA to track Pioneer. The telescope maintained sporadic contact with the probe until 26 June 1960 when final contact was made a distance of 22.5 million miles. Manchester University