Mission Type: Orbiter
Launch Vehicle: Atlas-Centaur (AC-5 / Atlas C no. 156D / Centaur C)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States, Launch Complex 36A
NASA Center: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Spacecraft Mass: 951 kg
Spacecraft Instruments: None.
Deep Space Chronicle: A Chronology of Deep Space and Planetary Probes 1958-2000, Monographs in Aerospace History No. 24, by Asif A. Siddiqi
National Space Science Data Center, http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/
This mission was designed to rehearse a complete Centaur upper-stage burn in support of the Surveyor lunar lander program. On a nominal mission, the Centaur would boost its payload on a direct-ascent trajectory to the Moon.
On this test flight, SD-1, a nonfunctional dynamic model, would be boosted on a simulated lunar transfer trajectory to a hypothetical Moon with an orbit of 167 x 926,625 kilometers.
During the actual launch, less than 1 second after liftoff, a faulty valve caused both Atlas main engines to shut down. As a result, the booster fell back onto the pad and exploded.