Encyclopedia Astronautica
Johnston Island LE1


Delta launch complex. Launch Emplacement 1

Longitude: -169.5398 deg.
Latitude: 16.7288 deg.
First Launch: 1962.05.02.
Last Launch: 1970.03.27.
Number: 13 .

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Associated Launch Vehicles
Associated Launch Sites
  • Johnston Island US military base on this island in the Pacific Ocean. Used for rocket-launched nuclear tests in the 1950's. In the 1960's it was the site for the operational AFP-437 anti-satellite system. The system was retired in 1975. Several sounding rockets were also launched over the years, either in support of nuclear tests or in experiments related to anti-satellite technology. Known to have been used for 124 launches from 1958 to 1975, reaching up to 1158 kilometers altitude. More...

Johnston Island LE1 Chronology


1962 May 2 - . 23:44 GMT - . Launch Site: Johnston Island. Launch Complex: Johnston Island LE1. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DSV-2E. LV Configuration: Thor DSV-2E 177.
  • TIGERFISH test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 500 km (310 mi).

1962 June 4 - . 09:44 GMT - . Launch Site: Johnston Island. Launch Complex: Johnston Island LE1. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DSV-2E. LV Configuration: Thor DSV-2E 199.
  • BLUEGILL Nuclear test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 500 km (310 mi). Initial attempt to launch a live nuclear weapon using the Thor IRBM from Johnston Atoll. The range safety radar had been unreliable before launch,. Five minutes after launch, after shutdown of the booster, the Johnston missile tracking system failed. Unable to monitor the warhead's flight path, the range safety officer destroyed it 10 minutes later, prior to warhead detonation.

1962 June 20 - . 08:46 GMT - . Launch Site: Johnston Island. Launch Complex: Johnston Island LE1. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DSV-2E. LV Configuration: Thor DSV-2E 193. FAILURE: Failure. Failed Stage: 1.
  • STARFISH Nuclear test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 10 km (6 mi).

1962 July 9 - . 08:46 GMT - . Launch Site: Johnston Island. Launch Complex: Johnston Island LE1. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DSV-2E. LV Configuration: Thor DSV-2E 195.
  • STARFISH PRIME Nuclear test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 400 km (240 mi). Successful high-altitude test of a Thor IRBM with a live nuclear warhead. The payload included test instrumentation and a W-49 warhead/Mk-4 re-entry vehicle. The 1.45 megaton bomb exploded at an altitude of 400 km. The explosion was visible 2,600 km away, at Kwajalein Atoll; an artificial aurora lasted seven minutes. The unforeseen and most militarily significant effect was the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) generated by the test. This caused power mains surges in Oahu, knocking out street lights, blowing fuses and circuit breakers, and triggering burglar alarms (and this in the days before microelectronics). The explosion supercharged the Van Allen radiation belts, resulting in several satellites malfunctioning.

1962 July 26 - . 09:13 GMT - . Launch Site: Johnston Island. Launch Complex: Johnston Island LE1. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DSV-2E. LV Configuration: Thor DSV-2E 180. FAILURE: Thor exploded on liftoff.. Failed Stage: 1.
  • BLUEGILL PRIME Nuclear test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 0 km ( mi). Second attempt to launch a nuclear weapon using the Thor IRBM. The payload consisted of two re-entry vehicles, one with an instrument pod, the other with the warhead. The missile engine malfunctioned immediately on ignition. Range safety fired the destruct system whille the missile was still on the launch pad. The Johnston Island launch complex was heavily damaged and contaminated with plutonium. Three months of repairs and decontamination were necessary before tests could resume.

1962 October 26 - . 09:44 GMT - . Launch Site: Johnston Island. Launch Complex: Johnston Island LE1. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DSV-2E. LV Configuration: Thor DSV-2E 141.
  • BLUEGILL TRIPLE PRIME Nuclear test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 500 km (310 mi). On the fourth attempt, a Thor IRBM was used to launch a Mk 4 Re-entry Vehicle containing a 186 kg W-50 nuclear warhead of either 200 or 400 kilotons yield. The detonation occurred at an altitude of 50 km, 31 km SSW of Johnston Atoll. A fireball formed, the colourful afterglow continuing for 30 minutes of the explosion. At this altitude the extensive disruption of the ionosphere seen in later explosions did not occur.

1964 February 14 - . 07:47 GMT - . Launch Site: Johnston Island. Launch Complex: Johnston Island LE1. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DSV-2J. LV Configuration: Thor DSV-2J 299 (20002).
  • AFP-437 demonstration interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF; DACO. Apogee: 1,000 km (600 mi).

1964 March 1 - . 06:40 GMT - . Launch Site: Johnston Island. Launch Complex: Johnston Island LE1. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DSV-2J. LV Configuration: Thor DSV-2J 209 (20006).
  • AFP-437 demonstration interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 674 km (418 mi).

1964 November 16 - . 06:57 GMT - . Launch Site: Johnston Island. Launch Complex: Johnston Island LE1. Launch Pad: LE1?. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DSV-2J. LV Configuration: Thor DSV-2J 236.
  • AFP-437 combat training interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 1,148 km (713 mi).

1967 March 31 - . 06:44 GMT - . Launch Site: Johnston Island. Launch Complex: Johnston Island LE1. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DSV-2J. LV Configuration: Thor DSV-2J 168.
  • AFP-437 combat evaluation interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 484 km (300 mi).

1968 May 14 - . 07:05 GMT - . Launch Site: Johnston Island. Launch Complex: Johnston Island LE1. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DSV-2J. LV Configuration: Thor DSV-2J 205.
  • AFP-437 combat evaluation interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 823 km (511 mi).

1968 November 20 - . 07:08 GMT - . Launch Site: Johnston Island. Launch Complex: Johnston Island LE1. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DSV-2J. LV Configuration: Thor DSV-2J 252.
  • AFP-437 combat evaluation interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 1,158 km (719 mi).

1970 March 27 - . 07:37 GMT - . Launch Site: Johnston Island. Launch Complex: Johnston Island LE1. LV Family: Delta. Launch Vehicle: Thor DSV-2J. LV Configuration: Thor DSV-2J 152.
  • AFP-437 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 1,074 km (667 mi).

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