Encyclopedia Astronautica
Martlet



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Martlet-2, 3, 4
A Brief History of the HARP Project
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Martllet 2
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Project HARP 16 inch
Used with permission of Stephen E. Mendes - visit his Barbados Photo Gallery
Credit: © Stephen E. Mendes
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Project HARP 16 inch
Used with permission of Stephen E. Mendes - visit his Barbados Photo Gallery
Credit: © Stephen E. Mendes
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Martlet 3A detail
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Martlet 4 - Solid
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Martlet 4 - Liquid
Canadian gun-launched orbital launch vehicle. In 1962-1967 Canada's Gerard Bull led development of the Martlet system for gun-launched access to space. The program was cancelled before the objective of gun launch to orbit was attained.

Even after the rocket established its primacy as a method of accessing space, Gerald Bull of the Canadian Armament and Research Development Establishment began a life-long struggle to use guns for cheap access to space.

In the 1950's Bull pioneered the use of gun-fired models as an economical approach to study supersonic aerodynamics. The model was fitted with a wooden shell, or sabot, that matched the diameter of the gun barrel. After leaving the barrel the sabot would fall away and the model would continue, with high-speed cameras recording its behaviour in flight.

By 1961 Bull had expanded his concept and obtained a $10 million joint contract from the US and Canadian Defence Departments for a High Altitude Research Program (HARP). This was to prove the feasibility of using large guns for launch of scientific and military payloads on sub-orbital and orbital trajectories.

For long range shots a range was established at Barbados, where the payloads could be sent eastward over the Atlantic. A surplus 125 tonne US Navy 16 inch gun was used as the launcher. The standard 20 m barrel was extended to 36 m, and converted to a smooth-bore. In 1962 - 1967 Bull launched over 200 atmospheric probes to altitudes of up to 180 km.

By this time relations between Canada and the United States were strained because of the Viet Nam war. Canada terminated the project.

Success Rate: 100.00%. Launch data is: incomplete.

Status: Retired 1966.
First Launch: 1963.01.01.
Last Launch: 1966.11.20.
Number: 37 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Gun-launched Artillery dominated military ballistics from the earliest use of gunpowder. In 1865 Jules Verne could only realistically consider a cannon for a moon launch in his influential novel. Even after the rocket established its primacy as a method of accessing space, Canadian Gerald Bull began a life-long struggle to use guns for cheap access to space. His successes could not generate funding to continue. Others since then have pursued the technology, convinced it was the only way for low-cost delivery of payloads to orbit. More...
  • Martlet In 1962-1967 Canada's Gerard Bull led development of the Martlet system for gun-launched access to space. The program was cancelled before the objective of gun launch to orbit was attained. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Bull Canadian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Bull, Canada. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Goebel, Greg, Space Guns, Web Address when accessed: here.

Martlet Chronology


1967 June 30 - . LV Family: Martlet. Launch Vehicle: Martlet.
  • HARP project closed down - . Nation: Canada. The cancellation came only a few months before an orbital 2G-1 could be flown. Martlet 2's were used to conduct extensive research at altitudes of up to 180 km with some 200 flights being conducted between 1963 and 1967. The very low cost per flight, about $3,000, made it ideal for a wide variety of applications.. Typical mission payloads included chemical ejection to produce an observable atmospheric trail and assorted sensors with multi-channel telemetry.

1968 October 11 - . 15:17 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA2. Launch Vehicle: Martlet. LV Configuration: EXAMETNET W 104.
  • Chute - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 68 km (42 mi).

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