Pad Abort Test 1

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Pad Abort Test 1
Mission type Abort test
Operator NASA
Mission duration 2 minutes, 45.1 seconds
Distance travelled 2.51 kilometers (1.56 mi)
Apogee 2.82 kilometers (1.75 mi)
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft Apollo BP-06
Start of mission
Launch date November 7, 1963, 16:00:01 (1963-11-07UTC16:00:01Z) UTC
Rocket Apollo LES
Launch site White Sands LC-36
End of mission
Landing date November 7, 1963, 16:02:45 (1963-11-07UTC16:02:46Z) UTC

Apollo program insignia.png

Project Apollo
Abort Tests
← QTV A-001

Pad Abort Test 1 was the first abort test of the Apollo spacecraft on November 7, 1963.


Pad Abort Test 1 was a mission to investigate the effects on the Apollo spacecraft during an abort from the pad. The launch escape system (LES) had to be capable of pulling the spacecraft away from a possibly exploding rocket while it sat on the pad. The LES then had to gain enough altitude to allow the command module's parachutes to open, preferably with the spacecraft over water and not land.

The flight featured a production model LES and a boilerplate (BP-6) Apollo spacecraft, the first mission to feature one. The spacecraft carried no instruments for measuring structural loads as the capsule's boilerplate structure did not represent that of a real spacecraft.


Pad Abort Test 1 (NASA)

On November 7, 1963, an abort signal was sent to the LES at 09:00:01 local time. This initiated a sequence in which the main solid rockets fired to move the spacecraft and smaller attitude rockets fired so that the spacecraft moved laterally toward the ocean.

The LES separated after fifteen seconds with the spacecraft now on a ballistic trajectory. The parachute system worked perfectly with the drogue chute stabilizing the spacecraft, followed by the three main parachutes that slowed the descent to a leisurely 26 kilometers per hour.

The only problems found with the flight were that the LES rockets had left a soot deposit on the spacecraft exterior and the stability of the spacecraft was less than predicted.


Apollo Pad Abort Test - Nov. 7, 1963 (NASA)