Encyclopedia Astronautica
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Category of launch vehicles.


Deacon Hercules solid rocket motor developed in World War II that later became the basis of dozens of test vehicle and sounding rocket configurations. The design was upgraded to the Cajun, then the Apache. An equivalent was produced by Atlantic Research as the Arcon. Thousands were flown as single stage vehicles; in combination with other lower or upper stages; or carried aloft by balloons in the Rockoon configuration.

R-11FM First Russian submarine-launched ballistic missile. Following protracted testing the design was accepted by the military in 1959 but never put into operational service.

M-100 Two-stage, solid propellant, fin stabilized, unguided Russian sounding rocket, fired in greater numbers than any other. At least 6,640 of all models were fired to the edge of space before the vehicle was discontinued in 1990. 4,908 of the basic M-100 model were fired from 1957-07-11 to 1983-09-28.

R-13 Russian submarine-launched ballistic missile. Developed from 1956-1960. First nuclear-armed SLBM.

R-21 Russian submarine-launched ballistic missile. First flight 1962. NATO code Serb may apply to SS-N-6 instead. First subsurface launched SLBM (development began at OKB- 586 and transferred to SKB-385).

Seabee American sea-launched test vehicle. Seabee was a brief proof of principle program to validate the sea-launch concept for Sea Dragon. A surplus Aerobee rocket was modified so that it could be fired underwater. The rocket worked properly the first time in restrained mode. Later tests were made with various approaches to readying the unit for repeat firings. This proved to be so simple that the cost of turn-around was found to be about 7% of the cost of a new unit.

Sea Horse American sea-launched test vehicle. The second phase of Sea Launch was to demonstrate the concept on a larger scale, with a rocket with a complex set of guidance and control systems. Sea Horse used one of 39 surplus Corporal missiles that Truax obtained from the Army and successfully demonstrated ignition in the ocean of a rocket stage.

Sea Dragon American sea-launched heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. Sea Dragon was an immense, sea-launched, two-stage launch vehicle designed by Robert Truax for Aerojet in 1962. It was to be capable of putting 1.2 million pounds (550 metric tons) into low Earth orbit. The concept was to achieve minimum launch costs through lower development and production costs. This meant accepting a larger booster with a lower performance propulsion system and higher stage dead weight then traditional NASA and USAF designs.

Zyb Russian zero-G suborbital launch vehicle based on surplus R-27 SLBM. Suborbital; 17-24 min zero G. Payload volume 1.5 cu. M. Payload 650 kg to 1800 km or 1000 kg to 1000 km.

Super Loki American sounding rocket. Larger-diameter version of single-stage Loki sounding rocket, developed originally for NASA's Marshall Spaceflight Center.

MMR-06 Russian solid propellant sounding rocket, capable of lofting 5 to 11 kg to 60 km altitude. Launch mass 130 kg, 9 seconds burn time. Nose ejects at apogee. Flown in both conical nose and boosted dart configurations.

R-31 Russian submarine launched ballistic missile. First Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile to reach production using solid propellants. Deployed from 1980, but withdrawn in 1990 under the terms of the SALT-2 Treaty.

Volna Russian launch vehicle based on surplus R-29RL submarine launched ballistic missiles. Suborbital and orbital versions. Payload volume 1.3 cu. M. Payload 115 kg to 3000 km or 1250 kg to 200 km altitude suborbital trajectories, or 120 (260 lb) kg to a 200 km orbit. Liftoff mass 34 metric tons.

M-100B Russian sounding rocket. Model calibrated with Western sounding rockets and part of the World Meteorological Network. 1,730 launched from 1976-01-07 to 1990-12-.

Rif Russian orbital launch vehicle. R-39 SLBM adapted for use as suborbital test vehicle or orbital launch vehicle.

Shtil' Russian intercontinental ballistic orbital launch vehicle. Three stage vehicle based on R-29RM SLBM.

Dolphin American sea-launched test vehicle. The Dolphin hybrid rocket (solid fuel and liquid oxygen oxidizer) was built by Starstruck (formerly ARC Technology), a predecessor to AMROC. The Dolphin included not only innovative propulsion technology but was also launched from a floating launch canister at sea. One test article of the hybrid was successfully launched in the summer of 1984. But the project was backed entirely with private funds and when backing for further development was not forthcoming, the project folded.

Excalibur American sea-launched orbital launch vehicle. Excalibur was a subscale version of Sea Dragon proposed by Truax Engineering in the 1990's. It featured the same attributes as Sea Dragon: low cost design (pressure fed engines), LOx/Kerosene first stage (combustion chamber pressure 24 atmospheres) and LOx/LH2 second stage (chamber pressure 5 atmospheres). Guidance would be by a combined Inertial/GPS system. An even smaller Excalibur S vehicle would prove the concept and place 500 kg in orbit.

MSBS M45 French intermediate range ballistic missile. Improved M-4.

SEALAR American sea-launched orbital launch vehicle. SEALAR (SEA LAunched Rocket) was yet another attempt by Truax Engineering to get the amphibious-launch concept off the ground. The project received some Navy Research Laboratory funding in the early 1990's, with a planned first launch date of 1996. A production model would have been able to achieve orbit at an estimated cost of $ 10 million per launch. As with the earlier Truax projects, it did not achieve flight test status.

Excalibur Model S American sea-launched orbital launch vehicle. Two recoverable pressure-fed stages.

Zenit-3SL Ukrainian orbital launch vehicle. From the beginning of the program a Zenit-3 version was proposed for geosynchronous launches using the N1/Proton Block D third stage. This had the potential of replacing the Proton in the role of geosynchronous launcher. It was considered for launch from Australia / Cape York in the 1980's. Finally a joint US-Norwegian-Ukrainian-Russian consortium was formed to launch the three stage commercial Zenit from the Odyssey floating launch platform in the Pacific Ocean.

R-29RM Russian submarine-launched ballistic missile. SLBM on Delta 4 subs. First flight June 1983. Developed 1973-1986.

Neptune American sea-launched orbital launch vehicle. Sea-launched stage-and-a-half liquid oxygen / liquid natural gas orbital launch vehicle for passengers or payloads of up to 4.5 metric tons.

Sea Star American sea-launched orbital launch vehicle. Sea-launched microsatellite orbital launch vehicle for payloads up to 13 kilograms and a test bed for the planned larger Neptune orbital launch vehicle.

Aquarius American sea-launched orbital launch vehicle. Proposed expendable, water launch, single-stage-to-orbit, liquid oxygen/hydrogen, low-cost launch vehicle designed to carry small bulk payloads to low earth orbit. A unique attribute was that low reliability was accepted in order to achieve low cost.

Family: Sea Launch Area.

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