New Space and Tech

The Origin of The Titan 1 at NASA Ames

By Keith Cowing
April 8, 2013
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According to Glenn E. Bugos, Ph.D. from the NASA Ames History Office: “The Titan I was brought to Ames in 1969, along with an Atlas missile, and they were among the last items tested in the Structural Dynamics Laboratory (N242).  The SDL was built to study buffeting during atmospheric ascent.  A photo ran in the Astrogram (24 December 1970), of the Atlas moving into the vacuum tower.  The tests, on active vibration control, were run by Jerome Pearson, with help on the mounting from Bruno J. Gambucci.  Both worked in Code SVS, the Structural Dynamics Branch run by Al Erickson and Henry Cole, which was part of the Vehicle Environment Division run by Al Seiff and David Reese.  Pearson and Gambucci published one paper on the set up of the tests.

We do not know where Ames got the missile.  Ames did a variety of studies related to the Titan in the early 1960s–notably Don Buell’s work in the 12 foot on wind gusts around the upright missile, and work on the POGO phenomenon for the Gemini program.  But all of that work was done on scale models; there was no full scale Titan here before 1969.  The Titan I was retired from active service in 1965, and the USAF likely considered this one scrap.  Pearson and Gambucci’s test was paid for by the Space Shuttle program office.

As early as November 1974 the two Titan I stages were on static display with the Atlas in the parking lot between N204, N237 and N206.  The Atlas had been dented during the tests, and it was not kept  on display very long.  Sometime between 1980 and 1984 the Titan was moved to the static display area of the then-new Ames Visitor Center.”

Dr. Bugos also incuded a copy of this paper which describes how this Titan 1 was originally used at Ames as part of a test stystem to simulate rocket launches.

“A Unique Model, Suspension, and Excitation System for Launch Vehicle Dynamics Studies”, TMX 67397, Jerome Pearson and Bruno J. Gambucci, Ames Research Center, NASA. Abstract: “A description is given of a flexible model, feedback-controlled suspension, and modified electromagnetic shaker for use in launch vehicle dynamics studies. Test results indicate the effectiveness of the system in simulating the launch phase of liquid-fuel vehicles. Tests are now under way to develop a large vehicle system, using an Atlas and a Titan 1 with an 89,000 Newton (20,000 lb) force thruster.”

Update: According to a May 2010 posting on the Yahoo missile_talk discussion group, our Titan 1, 61-4492 (SM-65) was based at Larson AFB in Washington.

Update: Photos of Titan 1 #61-4492 Arriving at NASA Ames in 1969

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