Suborbital Apollo-Saturn Test Flight, and Bill Dana Goes Supersonic

Forty-five years ago today — August 25, 1966 — NASA launched another suborbital Apollo-Saturn vehicle to test Command & Service Module systems in advance of manned Apollo launches.


(AS-202 launch. NASA image.)

AS-202‘s flight objectives were to verify the Saturn 1B launch vehicle’s integrity, loads, and performance, and to evaluate the separation system, emergency detection, and heatshield of the Apollo spacecraft.

Mission controllers fired the CSM’s engines multiple times to test their rapid restart capabilities, accelerating the capsule for reentry to test the heatshield. It performed very well: “Maximum temperature of the spacecraft exterior was calculated at about 1500 deg. C, temperature inside the cabin was 21 deg. C (70 F).”

Jump ahead five years in time …

On this date in 1971, NASA pilot William “Bill” Dana made the first supersonic flight in the M2-F3 lifting body.


(NASA lifting body pilots with M2-F3 in the background. NASA image.)

Last November, I blogged about Dana making the first flight in the M2-F3. I likely will continue posting occasional references to Dana’s flights, because he’s one of the most interesting people I ever met (during my first USAF assignment, we were both on the Flight Readiness Review Committee for the very first launch of the Pegasus system). If you want to know more about him, check out his Wikipedia page.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmailby feather
Tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.