Encyclopedia Astronautica

American sounding rocket. The was another sounding rocket using the Super Loki booster. It used a dart with a ROBIN (Rocket Balloon Instrument) Inflatable Falling Sphere payload.

Historical Essay © Andreas Parsch

Space Data PWN-12 Super Loki ROBIN

The PWN-12A is another sounding rocket using the Super Loki booster of the PWN-10 and PWN-11. It uses a dart with a ROBIN (Rocket Balloon Instrument) Inflatable Falling Sphere payload. At an apogee of about 115 km (70 miles), the dart releases an ML-568-AM metalized mylar balloon, which is inflated to 1 m (3.3 ft) diameter and 12 hPa pressure. While it is slowly descending back to earth, the balloon is tracked by a high-precision radar (e.g. AN-FPS-10) on the ground. Minimum tracking altitude is about 30 km (18 miles), where the ambient pressure will cause the balloon to collapse. Using the balloon's known mass and volume, the radar track can be used to calculate atmospheric data like wind speed-direction and air density. The latter can then be used to calculate air pressure and temperature.

Other than the telemetry-equipped PWN-10 and PWN-11 probes, the PWN-12A ROBIN requires a high-precision radar to get air temperature data. However, its maximum altitude and temperature measurement ranges are greater than that of the datasondes. PWN-12A rockets (also known as Super Loki Inflatable Sphere) are still used today on NASA and military stations for regular high-altitude weather probing.


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for PWN-12A:

Length (incl. booster) 3.16 m (10 ft 4.5 in); dart: 1.16 m (45.7 in)
Diameter Booster: 10.2 cm (4 in); dart: 4.0 cm (1.58 in)
Finspan Booster: 20.3 cm (8 in); dart: 11.7 cm (4.62 in)
Weight ?
Speed ?
Ceiling 115 km (70 miles; 380000 ft)
Propulsion Aero Dyne SR110-AD-1 Super Loki solid-fuel rocket; 25 kN (5520 lb) for 2.1 s
Main Sources

[1] Richard B. Morrow, Mitchell S. Pines: "Small Sounding Rockets", Small Rocket Press, 2000
[2] "DOD 4120.15-L: Model Designation of Military Aerospace Vehicles", Department of Defense, 1974
[3] Upper Air Instrumentation Research Projects Website, NASA, 1997
[4] Edward J. Hopkins: "Meteorological Rockets", 1996

AKA: PWN-12; Super Loki Robin.

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Associated Countries
See also
  • Loki American unguided solid-propellant barrage anti-aircraft rocket adapted to use as a meteorological sounding rocket. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Aerojet American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Aerojet, Sacramento, CA, USA. More...

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