SP-4401 - NASA SOUNDING ROCKETS, 1958-1968: A Historical Summary

 

[79] APPENDIX A

SHORT DESCRIPTIONS OF MAJOR SOUNDING ROCKETS

 

During the preparation of this brief history, the writer had to organize a card file of major sounding rockets in self-defense. It seemed as though almost every permutation and combination of extant rocket stages had been used at one time or another. Furthermore, various names had been applied to the same vehicle. To aid the reader, this glossary of major sounding rockets has been prepared.

Aerobee Hawk:

See Aerobee 75.

Aerobee-Hi:

See Aerobee 150.

Aerobee Junior:

See Aerobee 100.

Aerobee 75:

(Aerobee Hawk) Developed by Aerojet for the Army Signal Engineering Laboratory. First flight in 1958. Theoretically could lift 45 kg (100 lb) to 120 km (75 mi). Abandoned.

Aerobee 90:

Combination of Hawk and Sparrow missiles. Designed to lift 18 kg (40 lb) to 125 km (78 mi). All other Aerobees had liquid main stages. A "paper" rocket.

Aerobee 100:

(Aerobee Junior) Developed by Aerojet on company funds. Twenty fired between 1947 and 1961. Could lift 18 kg (40 lb) to 160 km (100 mi).

Aerobee 150:

(Aerobee-Hi) The Aerobee 150 was actually an improved Aerobee-Hi, but differences were slight. This became the so-called "standard Aerobee." Developed by Aerojet. First used in 1955. Navy and Air Force versions existed. Many slightly different models. Could lift 68 kg (15 lb) to 275 km (170 mi).

Aerobee 150A:

Similar to Aerobee 150 except it had four rather than three stabilizing fins. First flight in 1960.

Aerobee 170:

An Aerobee 150A with a Nike solid-propellant booster.

Aerobee 300:

(Spaerobee) Aerobee 150 plus a Sparrow third stage. Developed by Aerojet with Navy funds under technical direction of NRL. First used in 1958. Could lift 23 kg (50 lb) to 480 km (300 mi).

Aerobee 300A:

An Aerobee 300 with the Aerobee 150 stage replaced by an Aerobee 150A.

Aerobee 350:

Main stage employed four clustered Aerobee 150 stages; the upper stage was another Aerobee 150. A Nike booster was used. Developed by Space-General (Aerojet) for Goddard. A large rocket, it could lift 227 kg (50( lb) to 340 km (210 mi).

[80] Arcas:

(All-Purpose Rocket for Collecting Atmospheric Soundings) Developed by the Atlantic Research Corp. for the Office of Naval Research (ONR) with the support of the Navy Bureau of Aeronautics and the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories. Primarily a meteorological rocket, the Arcas used a launching tube. First firing in July 1959. Designed to lift 5.4 kg (12 lb) to 64 km (40 mi). Two versions of the boosted Arcas exist. Also used with Sidewinder missile.

Archer:

A small solid-propellant rocket developed by the Atlantic Research Corp. Introduced in 1962 for the IQSY. Could lift 18 kg (40 lb) to 160 km (100 mi).

Arcon:

Similar to the Deacon and Cajun. Developed by the Atlantic Research Corp. for NRL. First used in 1958. Designed to lift 18 kg (40 lb) to 113 km (70 mi).

Argo series:

All of the rockets in this series were adaptations by the Aerolab Development Co. of Langley-designed vehicles. The Argos are all relatively large rockets. An Argo glossary follows.

Argo A-l:

(Percheron). Modified Sergeant plus 2 Recruits. Used on occasion by Langley Research Center. Could lift 180 kg (400 lb) to 177 km (110 mi).

Argo D-4:

(Javelin) Honest John plus 2 Nike-Ajax plus X-248. First NASA use in 1959. Could lift 45 kg (100 lb) to 800 km (500 mi).

Argo D-8:

(Journeyman) Modified Sergeant plus Lance plus Lance plus X-248. A NASA development. First NASA use in 1960. Could lift 68 kg (150 lb) to 1600 km (1000 mi).

Argo E-S:

(Jason) Honest John plus Nike plus Nike plus Recruit plus T-55. First used in 1958. Air Force used in Project Jason during the Argus high-altitude nuclear tests.

Arrow:

A version of the Loki solid-propellant motor.

Asp:

(Atmospheric Sounding Projectile) Developed by Cooper Development Corp. for the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory. Flight test in 1956. Could lift 13.6 kg (30 lb) to 40 km (25 mi).

Aspan:

(Nike-Asp) Rail-launched vehicle consisting of an Asp plus a Nike booster. Product of the Cooper Development Corp. Could lift 27 kg (60 lb) to 260 km (160 mi). Also an improved version, the Aspan 300.

Astrobee 200:

Similar to the Aerobee 150, with a higher acceleration regime. Developed by Aerojet for the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories. Designed to lift 57 kg (125 lb) to 320 km (200 mi).

Astrobee 250:

Developed by Aerojet. Designed to lift 227 kg (500 lb) to 345 km (215 mi).

Astrobee 500:

Developed by Aerojet for the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories. Could lift 18 kg (40 lb) to 800 km (500 mi).

Astrobee 1500:

A large sounding rocket originally developed by Aerojet for the Air Force. Consisted of an Aerobee 100 (Aerobee Junior) augmented by two Recruits plus an Alcor second stage. Replacement for the Journeyman. First launch attempt by NASA on April 8, 1963, at Wallops Island was a failure. Used sparingly by NASA for heavy payloads and very high altitudes. Could lift 34 kg (75 lb) to 2414 km (1500 mi).

Black Brant:

A series of sounding rockets developed by Bristol Aerospace Ltd., Winnipeg, primarily for the U.S. Air Force. The important models are:

Black Brant III: 39.5 kg (88 lb) to 184 km (114 mi)

Black Brant IV: 38.5 kg (85 lb) to 926 km (575 mi)

[81] Black Brant VA: 136 kg (300 lb) to 185km (115mi)

Black Brant VB: 136 kg (300 lb) to 386 km (240 mi)

Marshall Space Flight Center used Black Brants in Apollo research. Goddard financed some recent Black Brant development and added the Black Brant IV to its "stable." The first Black Brant firing in November 1961 at Wallops was unsuccessful.

Boa:

A Marquardt sounding rocket consisting of an Honest John plus Nike plus Nike. Could lift 227 kg (500 lb) to 108 km (67 mi).

Cajun-Dart:

A small rocket developed by Space Data Corp. under contract to Marshall Space Flight Center. First tests at Eglin Air Force Base in August 1964. 80- to 96-km (50 to 60-mi) range. Used at Cape Kennedy as a chaff rocket.

CAN:

See Nike-Cajun.

DAN:

See Nike-Deacon.

Deacon:

A rocket motor developed by Allegany Ballistics Laboratory for the Navy Bureau of Ordnance as one of a series of missile solid-propellant motors (Curate, Vicar, etc.). First fired at Wallops Island in April 1947. NACA used extensively for firing aerodynamic models. Later used in Terrapin rocket, on many rockoon flights, and by NASA in the Nike-Deacon sounding rockets. Superseded by the Cajun. Used alone, it could lift 9 kg (20 lb) to 80 km (50 mi).

Deacon-Arrow:

A small rocket developed by Sandia Corp. for use in nuclear weapons tests. Could lift 9 kg (20 lb) to 77 km (48 mi).

Exos:

A development of the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories, assisted by NACA and the University of Michigan. Consisted of an Honest John plus Nike-Ajax plus Recruit. First fired from Wallops Island on June 26, 1958. Could lift 18 kg (40 lb) to 480 km (300 mi).

Farside:

A type of rockoon developed by Aeronutronics Systems, Inc. The rocket consisted of 4 Recruits plus I Recruit plus 4 Asps plus I Asp. Fired from a General Mills balloon at about 30 km (19 mi), it was used to probe at very high altitudes. Could lift 1.8 kg (4 lb) to 6437 km (4000 mi). Project Farside fired six rockets in the fall of 1957.

Hasp:

(High Altitude Sounding Projectile) This small rocket was a converted Loki missile modified by the Naval Ordnance Laboratory. Hasps were fired from 127-mm (5-in.) guns. Could lift 2.7 kg (6 lb) to 29 km (18 mi).

Hawk:

(Loki II) A modified Loki II developed by JPL for Army Ordnance and manufactured by Cooper Development Corp. Used extensively during the IGY from the ground and from rockoons. Could lift 3.6 kg (8 lb) to 121 km (75 mi).

Iris:

Development of this Atlantic Research Corp. small sounding rocket began with NRL as the contract monitor but was completed by NASA. First NASA firing at Wallops Island on July 22, 1960. Rarely used today. Could lift 45 kg (100 lb) to 320 km (200 mi).

Jaguar:

An air-launched rocket developed by the Air Force Special Weapons Command. Consisted of 3 Recruits plus I Recruit plus a one-fifth-scale Sergeant. Fired from a B-47 in the late 1950s to explore the Van Allen belt. Could lift 15.9 kg (35 lb) to about 800 km (500 mi).

Jason:

(Argo E-5) Copy of a five-stage PARD research vehicle made by Aerolab for the Air Force (AFSWC) for use in the Jason program, which measured the trapped radiation from the Argus nuclear tests in the latter half of 1958. [82] Launched from Cape Kennedy, Wallops, and Puerto Rico. Consisted of an Honest John plus Nike plus Nike plus Recruit plus a T-55 as the fifth stage. NASA also planned to employ this rocket but never did.

Javelin:

See Argo D-4.

Journeyman:

See Argo D-8.

Loki:

A missile motor developed by JPL for Army Ordnance and manufactured by Cooper Development Corp. Originally an antiaircraft rocket, the Loki was used extensively on rockoons during the IGY. The Loki II was the Hawk. Naval Ordnance Laboratory converted the Loki II into the Hasp. JPL fired the first Loki on June 22, 1951. Loki I could lift 3.6 kg (8 lb) to 92 km (57 mi).

Nike-Apache:

A small rocket almost identical to the Nike-Cajun, with which it was interchangeable depending on the payload and altitude desired. The Apache motor was manufactured by Thiokol. One of the most commonly used rockets in the NASA "stable." First test firing from Wallops Island on May 25, 1961. Could lift 45.4 kg (100 lb) to 160 km (100 mi).

Nike-Asp:

See Aspan.

Nike-Cajun:

(CAN) Developed by NACA in conjunction with the University of Michigan, sponsored by the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories. Many launches during the IGY. Still used by NASA in large numbers. First tested at Wallops Island on July 6, 1956. Could lift 34 kg (75 lb) to 160 km (100 mi).

Nike-Deacon:

(DAN) The predecessor of the Nike-Cajun. A cooperative development effort between NACA and the University of Michigan, with the sponsorship of the Air Force. Used by NACA in 1954 for aerodynamic tests. Used widely during the IGY. First firing at Wallops Island on November 19, 1953. Could lift 27.2 kg (60 lb) to 97 km (60 mi).

Nike-Genie:

A development of Sandia Corp. Could lift 74.8 kg (165 lb) to 50 km (31 mi).

Nike-Iroquois:

An Air Force sounding rocket. Iroquois stage manufactured by Thiokol. Could lift 19.9 kg (44 lb) to 217 km (135 mi).

Nike-Javelin:

An Air Force sounding rocket.

Nike-Nike:

See Python.

Nike-Recruit:

First launched December 21, 1956.

Nike-Tomahawk:

Developed by Sandia Corp. for nuclear weapons work. Could lift 45.4 kg (100 lb) to 322 km (200 mi). NASA has used the Nike-Tomahawk for research purposes since 1965.

Oriole:

A Dart boosted by a Loki I. Development by the Army Signal Corps with the University of Maryland. First fired from shipboard off Virginia in September 1957. Could lift 1.6 kg (3.6 lb) to about 130 km (80 mi).

Pegasus:

A large sounding rocket developed by Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. Consisted of a modified Sergeant plus 3 Recruits plus I Recruit. Could lift 90.7 kg (200 lb) to 1770 km (1100 mi).

Phoenix:

A small two-stage sounding rocket developed for the Air Force by the Rocket Power Co. Instrumented by the University of Maryland. Could lift 9 kg (20 lb) to 274 km (170 mi).

Purr-kee:

A boosted Dart used by the Naval Ordnance Laboratory in meteorological research. Manufactured by American Machine & Foundry.

Python:

(Nike-Nike) A Marquardt rocket. Could lift 113.4 kg (250 lb) to 30 km (18 mi).

[83] Ram A:

A rocket employed by NACA-Langley for accelerating aerodynamic models. Consisted of: (stage 1) a Castor plus 2 Recruits; (stage 2) a Skat; (stage 3) a Skat; and (stage 4) a Recruit. Could lift 34 kg (75 lb) to 1271 km (790 mi).

Robin:

An Arcas rocket modified to carry balloons for radar-tracking experiments. Built by Atlantic Research Corp. for the Air Force and Navy.

Rockaire:

A generic term applied to aircraft-launched rockets. First tested by the Navy on August 16, 1955, when a small 69.9-mm (2.75-in.) rocket attained 54 864 m (180 000 ft) altitude off Wallops Island. Rarely used for scientific research.

Rockoon:

A generic term for balloon-launched rockets. (See Chapter IV for development history.) Deacons and Lokis (Hawks) were launched from several types of balloons before and during the IGY. Rockoons could lift 11.3 kg (25 lb) to approximately 113 km (70 mi). Project Farside employed the rockoon concept. Rarely used today.

Roksonde:

A family of small boosted Darts used to eject chaff at high altitudes. Manufactured by Marquardt Corp. (formerly Cooper Development Corp.). Models 100 and 200. The Roksonde 100 used a Loki booster.

Sergeant-Delta:

A large rocket used by NASA in Project Shotput in preparation for launching the Echo satellites. Consisted of a Sergeant plus 2 strapped-on Recruits plus a Delta X-248 second stage.

Sidewinder-Arcas:

An Arcas rocket boosted by the Navy Sidewinder missile motor.

Sidewinder-Raven:

The British Raven rocket boosted by a Navy Sidewinder missile.

Spaerobee:

See Aerobee 300.

Sparrow-Arcas:

An Arcas rocket boosted by a Sparrow missile motor.

Strongarm:

A large five-stage rocket developed by the Army Ballistics Research Laboratory with the cooperation of the University of Michigan. Consisted of an Honest John plus Nike plus Nike plus modified Recruit plus a scaled-down Sergeant. Fired first from Wallops Island on November 10, 1959. Could lift 6.8 kg (15 lb) to 1600 km (1000 mi).

Terasca:

A small sounding rocket developed by the Naval Ordnance Test Station, China Lake. Consisted of a Terrier plus Asroc plus Cajun. Could lift 11.3 kg (25 lb) to 158 km (98 mi).

Terrapin:

A small Navy sounding rocket. Originally developed for the University of Maryland by Republic Aviation and Allegany Ballistics Laboratory with National Security Agency funding. Modified Deacon first stage with Thiokol T-55 second stage. First fired from Wallops Island on September 21, 1956. Could lift 2.7 to 4 kg (6 to 9 lb) to 129 km (80 mi).

Tic:

A Sandia Corp. sounding rocket used in nuclear weapons tests. Consisted of the Lacrosse missile motor plus a Recruit. Could lift 49.9 kg (110 lb) to 160 km (100 mi).

Tomahawk:

A Sandia Corp. sounding rocket. Could lift 20.4 kg (45 lb) to about 160 km (100 mi).

V-2:

The large German military V-2s were modified for sounding rocket use after World War II. (See Chapter III for historical details.) First U.S. flight at White Sands on April 16, 1946. Could lift 1134 kg (2500 lb) to 184 km (114 mi). Used in Project Bumper and many military test flights.

Viking:

A large sounding rocket developed by the Martin Co. for the Naval Research Laboratory. (See Chapter IV for historical details.) Two types. Type7: nominal performance: 227 kg (500 lb) to 217 km (135 mi); Type-9: nominal performance, 454 kg (1000 lb) to 254 km (158 mi). First firing at White Sands on May 3, 1949.

[84] Corporal:

A small sounding rocket developed by JPL for Army Ordnance. Originally developed for meteorological use, the Wac Corporal was the first practical sounding rocket. Built by Aerojet and Douglas, it led directly to the famous Aerobee series. First launched at White Sands on September 26, 1945; it could lift 11.3 kg (25 lb) to 64 km (40 mi). The Wac Corporal was never used to any degree because of the availability of surplus V-2s.

Wasp:

(Weather Atmospheric Sounding Projectile) Developed for the Office of Naval Research by the Cooper Development Corp., the Wasp was fired from 127-mm (5-in.) guns. A small rocket used primarily for chaff ejection at high altitudes. First used in February 1956. Could lift 2.7 kg (6 lb) to 35 km (22 mi).

X-17:

A sounding rocket developed by Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. Consisted of a modified Sergeant plus 3 Recruits plus I Recruit. Originally developed for the Air Force for warhead reentry tests.


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