CAT-2, Amsat P3A & Firewheel

Launch Time
Fri May 23, 1980 14:29 UTC

The launch ended in failure shortly after liftoff due to combustion instability in one of the Viking first-stage engines. Flight L02.


Ariane 1
Image Credit: Arianespace
Status: Retired
Liftoff Thrust: 2,772 kN
Payload to LEO: 4,850 kg
Payload to GTO: 1,850 kg
Stages: 4
Strap-ons: 0
Rocket Height: 47.4 m

Mission Details


The CAT (Capsule Ariane Technologique) payloads were instrumented vehicle evaluation payloads on the first four Ariane-1 flights.

CAT consisted of a cylindrical section, which carried the instruments for vibration, acceleration, sound, and launch environment. They were battery-powered with a lifetime of about 6 days. The CAT payloads could be topped by ballast or adaptor section.

CAT 1 carried a truncated cone ballast. CAT 2 was similar, but carried also the Firewheel satellite on top of the ballast section and the AMSAT P3A satellite side mounted.

Payloads: 1
Total Mass: 334.0 kg
Geostationary Transfer Orbit

Amsat P3A

AMSAT P3A (Phase 3A) was the first satellite of AMSAT Phase 3. It was developed in the 70s by AMSAT-DL and AMSAT-NA. It carried a communication payload consisting of 50 Watt Mode-B (435 MHz → 146 MHz) linear transponders. The satellite was inserted in a highly eccentric 12-hour Molniya-orbit by its onboard Star-13C kick motor.

Payloads: 1
Total Mass: 75.0 kg
Geostationary Transfer Orbit

Firewheel & Subsat-1 to 4

The Firewheel spacecraft was designed to make barium and lithium-ion releases in the night magnetosphere at 9.5 and 7 Re, respectively, and over North and South America. The main spacecraft was to carry 12 ejectable ion release containers. Diagnostic measurements were to be made on the main spacecraft and on four ejectable sub-payloads. These sub-payloads total approximately 200 kg (~50 kg each). Optical measurements were to be made from the ground and from aircraft.

Payloads: 1
Total Mass: 1,073.0 kg
Geostationary Transfer Orbit


ELA-1, Guiana Space Centre, French Guiana, France



41st orbital launch attempt

European Space Agency

2nd mission
1st mission of 1980
1st failed mission

Ariane 1

2nd mission
1st mission of 1980
1st failed mission