Thursday, June 9, 2011

50 YA: Discoverer XXIV Failure

Thor-Agena rocket at Vandenberg AFB, California. This was the rocket type used for the launch of Discoverer XXIV.

With the success of Alan Shepard's flight, the Space Race was really heating up. Meanwhile, the Cold War between the USA and the USSR continued at full speed. Advancements in space technology were eagerly sought by both sides to gain a military of intelligence advantage over the other. For the USA, the Corona spy satellite program still had its own teething problems. Discoverer XXIV was another in the series of secret Corona missions to fly a camera over the Soviet Union, take pictures of secret facilities, and send the film back to Earth.

Discoverer XXIV never made it to orbit.

I've been trying to find out a little more of the mission and why it failed, but no info so far. I do know that the rocket launched was a Thor-Agena B model, from Vandenberg AFB in California, on June 8, 1961 (although another date was also listed). The Corona version used was the KH-5 camera system. No reason for the failure has been found yet by me.

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