Encyclopedia Astronautica
San Marco



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San Marco
Credit: © Mark Wade
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San Marco
Location of San Marco
Credit: © Mark Wade
In 1962 NASA signed an agreement with the Centro Ricerche Aerospaziali at the University of Rome creating the San Marco program. The purpose of the program was to place an Italian satellite in orbit and to create an Italian equatorial launch site for the Scout rocket. Permission was obtained from Kenya to emplace two modified oil platforms off their coast, on the equator. The Santa Rita platform would serve as a launch control center and would also be used for launch of sounding rockets. The San Marco platform would be dedicated to launch of Scout rockets to orbit.

Santa Rita, a triangular platform 40 m on a side, was towed from Italy to Kenya in the winter of 1963-1964 and emplaced in 20 m of water. The first launches of Nike Apache sounding rockets in the spring of 1964 proved the platform's systems. The San Marco platform, a 30 x 100 m rectangle, was emplaced in 1966 and the first Scout launch to orbit came in April 1967.

The site continued in use until 1988. It was not scrapped, as one potential Italian or European launcher program after another (Scout 2, Vega) created the possibility that funds would be made available to put it back in use. By 2003 the platforms were in a very decrepit state and the scrap yard beckoned. San March was used for at least 27 launches from 1964 to 1988.

Minimum Inclination: 2.0 degrees. Maximum Inclination: 3.0 degrees.

Location: San Marco Launch Complex, Formosa Bay, Kenya.
Longitude: 40.2134 deg.
Latitude: -2.9408 deg.

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • Ariel American earth magnetosphere satellite. 6 launches, 1962.04.26 (Ariel 1) to 1979.06.02 (Ariel 6). Ionospheric studies; returned X-ray, ionospheric, cosmic ray data. More...
  • San Marco Italian earth atmosphere satellite. 5 launches, 1964.12.15 (San Marco 1) to 1988.03.25 (San Marco D/L). Atmospheric density studies. More...
  • SAS Italian solar satellite. 3 launches, 1970.12.12 (Explorer 42) to 1975.05.07 (Explorer 53). More...
  • SSS American earth magnetosphere satellite. One launch, 1971.11.15, Explorer 45. Studies magnetosphere, energetic particles. More...

See also
  • Apache The Apache upper stage was an improved version of the Cajun. The Thiokol engine used aluminised polyurethane propellant with a higher specific impulse and phenolic lining in the steel nozzle. Cost to NASA was $ 6,000 per rocket. The Apache could be used in a single stage version, but was normally used with a booster stage, usually the Nike. More...
  • Arcas The Arcas (All-Purpose Rocket for Collecting Atmospheric Soundings) was developed by the Atlantic Research Corporation 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 was first fired in July 1959. The single-stage version was designed to lift 5.4 kg to 64 km. For more demanding missions, several versions of boosted Arcas were developed, as well as a stretched Super Arcas motor. More...
  • Astrobee Aerojet-designed family of sounding rockets conceived as a lower-cost replacement of the liquid-propellant Aerobee. More...
  • Black Brant The Black Brant originated in a 1957 Canadian government requirement for a sounding rocket to characterize the ionosphere in order to improve military communications. Bristol Aerospace of Winnipeg, Manitoba was selected to design the rocket, while the Canadian Armament Research and Development Establishment (CARDE) was responsible for the propellant and filling. The lighter production version of the vehicle was renamed Black Brant. Later versions of Black Brant used a variety of booster and upper stages to supplement the original single-stage vehicle. More...
  • Scout Solid-fuel, light payload, lower-cost launch vehicle developed by the Air Force and NASA in the late 1950's and used in a variety of configurations over thirty years. Launched from Cape Canaveral, Vandenberg, Wallops Island, and from Italy's equatorial San Marco platform off Kenya. Italy studied but did not develop subsequent upgraded versions. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Nike Apache American sounding rocket. The most popular sounding rocket introduced during the early 1960's was this two-stage, solid-propellant vehicle consisting of a Nike booster and Apache upper stage. More...
  • Nike Tomahawk American sounding rocket. Two stage vehicle consisting of a Nike booster and Tomahawk upper stage. Payload 45 kg to 370 km or 115 kg to 215 km. More...
  • Scout B American all-solid orbital launch vehicle. Four stage vehicle consisting of 1 x Algol 2B + 1 x Castor 2 + 1 x Antares 2 + 1 x FW4S More...
  • Super Arcas American sounding rocket. Single stage vehicle, improved version of the original Arcas with a lengthened motor burning for 40 seconds. Payload 4 kg to 100 km or 8 kg to 40 km. More...
  • Scout B-1 American all-solid orbital launch vehicle. Four stage vehicle consisting of 1 x Algol 2C + 1 x Castor 2 + 1 x Antares 2 + 1 x Star 20 More...
  • Scout D-1 American all-solid orbital launch vehicle. Four stage vehicle consisting of 1 x Algol 3A + 1 x Castor 2 + 1 x Antares 2 + 1 x Star 20 More...
  • Scout F American all-solid orbital launch vehicle. Four stage vehicle consisting of 1 x Algol 3A + 1 x Castor 2 + 1 x Antares 2B + 1 x Star 20 More...
  • Scout G American all-solid orbital launch vehicle. Four stage vehicle consisting of 1 x Algol 3A + 1 x Castor 2 + 1 x Antares 3 + 1 x Star 20 More...

Associated Programs
  • Explorer Series of satellites launched by Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the exploration of the space environment (micrometeoroids, charged particles, radiation, etc) from both earth orbital and heliocentric orbital locations. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Serra, Jean-Jacques, Rockets in Europe, Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites

San Marco Chronology


1964 March 25 - . Launch Site: San Marco. Launch Complex: San Marco Rita. LV Family: Apache. Launch Vehicle: Nike Apache.
  • Test mission - . Nation: Italy. Agency: CRA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1964 March 30 - . Launch Site: San Marco. Launch Complex: San Marco Rita. LV Family: Apache. Launch Vehicle: Nike Apache.
  • Test mission - . Nation: Italy. Agency: CRA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1964 April 2 - . Launch Site: San Marco. Launch Complex: San Marco Rita. LV Family: Apache. Launch Vehicle: Nike Apache.
  • Test mission - . Nation: Italy. Agency: CRA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1967 April 26 - . 10:06 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Scout. Launch Vehicle: Scout B. LV Configuration: Scout B S153C.
  • San Marco 2 - . Payload: San Marco B. Mass: 129 kg (284 lb). Nation: Italy. Agency: CRS. Class: Earth. Type: Atmosphere satellite. Spacecraft: San Marco. Decay Date: 1967-10-14 . USAF Sat Cat: 2761 . COSPAR: 1967-038A. Apogee: 741 km (460 mi). Perigee: 219 km (136 mi). Inclination: 2.9000 deg. Period: 94.20 min. Summary: Atmospheric density data. Scientific satellite launched from a mobile range off Formosa Bay (Kenya). .

1970 December 12 - . 10:53 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Scout. Launch Vehicle: Scout B. LV Configuration: Scout B S175C.
  • Explorer 42 - . Payload: SAS A. Mass: 143 kg (315 lb). Nation: Italy. Agency: NASA Greenbelt. Program: Explorer. Class: Astronomy. Type: Solar astronomy satellite. Spacecraft: SAS. Decay Date: 1979-04-05 . USAF Sat Cat: 4797 . COSPAR: 1970-107A. Apogee: 570 km (350 mi). Perigee: 521 km (323 mi). Inclination: 3.0000 deg. Period: 95.50 min. Summary: Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space (US Cat B). .

1971 April 24 - . 07:32 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Scout. Launch Vehicle: Scout B. LV Configuration: Scout B S173C.
  • San Marco 3 - . Payload: San Marco C. Mass: 164 kg (361 lb). Nation: Italy. Agency: CRS. Class: Earth. Type: Atmosphere satellite. Spacecraft: San Marco. Decay Date: 1971-11-29 . USAF Sat Cat: 5176 . COSPAR: 1971-036A. Apogee: 707 km (439 mi). Perigee: 222 km (137 mi). Inclination: 3.2000 deg. Period: 93.80 min. Summary: Atmospheric research. Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space (US Cat B). .

1971 November 15 - . 05:52 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Scout. Launch Vehicle: Scout B. LV Configuration: Scout B S163CR.
  • Explorer 45 - . Payload: SSS A. Mass: 52 kg (114 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Greenbelt. Program: Explorer. Class: Earth. Type: Magnetosphere satellite. Spacecraft: SSS. Decay Date: 1992-01-10 . USAF Sat Cat: 5598 . COSPAR: 1971-096A. Apogee: 18,149 km (11,277 mi). Perigee: 272 km (169 mi). Inclination: 3.2000 deg. Period: 322.80 min. Summary: Studies magnetosphere, energetic particles. Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space (US Cat B). .

1971 November 17 - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Tomahawk Sandia. Launch Vehicle: Nike Tomahawk. LV Configuration: Nike Tomahawk NASA 18.103GA.
  • Aeronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1972 March 13 - . 16:00 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Apache. Launch Vehicle: Nike Apache.
  • ISRC-PO-4 Aeronomy mission - . Nation: Italy. Agency: CRS. Apogee: 185 km (114 mi).

1972 March 14 - . 15:58 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Apache. Launch Vehicle: Nike Apache.
  • ISRC-PO-5 Aeronomy mission - . Nation: Italy. Agency: CRS. Apogee: 185 km (114 mi).

1972 March 15 - . 16:00 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Apache. Launch Vehicle: Nike Apache.
  • ISRC-PO-6 Aeronomy mission - . Nation: Italy. Agency: CRS. Apogee: 185 km (114 mi).

1972 March 16 - . 15:43 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Apache. Launch Vehicle: Nike Apache.
  • ISRC-PO-7 Aeronomy mission - . Nation: Italy. Agency: CRS. Apogee: 185 km (114 mi).

1972 March 22 - . 08:22 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Apache. Launch Vehicle: Nike Apache.
  • ISRC-PO-9 Ionosphere mission - . Nation: Italy. Agency: CRS. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1972 November 15 - . 22:13 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Scout. Launch Vehicle: Scout D-1. LV Configuration: Scout D-1-F S170CR.
  • Explorer 48 - . Payload: SAS B. Mass: 185 kg (407 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Greenbelt. Program: Explorer. Class: Astronomy. Type: Solar astronomy satellite. Spacecraft: SAS. Decay Date: 1976-08-20 . USAF Sat Cat: 6282 . COSPAR: 1972-091A. Apogee: 526 km (326 mi). Perigee: 526 km (326 mi). Inclination: 1.0000 deg. Period: 95.20 min. Summary: Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space (US Cat B). .

1972 November 28 - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Apache. Launch Vehicle: Nike Apache.
  • Ionosphere / aeronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1973 June 30 - . 13:07 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Tomahawk Sandia. Launch Vehicle: Nike Tomahawk.
  • Solar extreme ultraviolet mission - . Nation: Italy. Agency: CRS. Apogee: 270 km (160 mi).

1974 February 18 - . 10:05 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Scout. Launch Vehicle: Scout D-1. LV Configuration: Scout D-1-F S190C.
  • San Marco 4 - . Payload: San Marco C2. Mass: 164 kg (361 lb). Nation: Italy. Agency: CRS. Class: Earth. Type: Atmosphere satellite. Spacecraft: San Marco. Decay Date: 1976-05-04 . USAF Sat Cat: 7154 . COSPAR: 1974-009A. Apogee: 875 km (543 mi). Perigee: 270 km (160 mi). Inclination: 2.9000 deg. Period: 96.10 min. Summary: Measurement of density, temperature, composition of atmosphere. Launch time 10:05:28.5 GMT. Anticipated life: 3 years. .

1974 October 15 - . 07:47 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Scout. Launch Vehicle: Scout B-1. LV Configuration: Scout B-1 S187C.
  • Ariel 5 - . Payload: UK 5. Mass: 129 kg (284 lb). Nation: UK. Agency: SRC. Class: Earth. Type: Magnetosphere satellite. Spacecraft: Ariel. Decay Date: 1980-03-14 . USAF Sat Cat: 7471 . COSPAR: 1974-077A. Apogee: 549 km (341 mi). Perigee: 504 km (313 mi). Inclination: 2.9000 deg. Period: 94.90 min. Summary: X-ray observatory. Cosmic X-ray astronomy. Injection point: 2.7S, 58.2E. Anticipated life: 5 years. Time of launch: 07:47:00.25 GMT. Decay also (belatedly) noted in ST/SG/SER.E/216. .

1975 May 7 - . 22:45 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Scout. Launch Vehicle: Scout F. LV Configuration: Scout F-1 S194C.
  • Explorer 53 - . Payload: SAS C. Mass: 195 kg (429 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Greenbelt. Program: Explorer. Class: Astronomy. Type: Solar astronomy satellite. Spacecraft: SAS. Decay Date: 1979-04-09 . USAF Sat Cat: 7788 . COSPAR: 1975-037A. Apogee: 507 km (315 mi). Perigee: 498 km (309 mi). Inclination: 3.0000 deg. Period: 94.70 min. Summary: Spacecraft engaged in research and exploration of the upper atmosphere or outer space (US Cat B). .

1980 February 15 - . 08:25 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Arcas. Launch Vehicle: Super Arcas. LV Configuration: Super Arcas NASA 15.200UE.
  • Plasma mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 88 km (54 mi).

1980 February 16 - . 08:23 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Black Brant. Launch Vehicle: Black Brant 8C. LV Configuration: Black Brant 8C NASA 27.43AS.
  • LASL Eclipse La Solar eclipse mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 319 km (198 mi).

1980 February 16 - . 08:23 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Black Brant. Launch Vehicle: Black Brant 8C. LV Configuration: Black Brant 8C NASA 27.42AS.
  • LASL Eclipse La Solar eclipse mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 298 km (185 mi).

1980 February 16 - . 08:25 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Astrobee. Launch Vehicle: Astrobee D. LV Configuration: Astrobee D NASA 23.17UE.
  • Plasma mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 78 km (48 mi).

1980 February 16 - . 08:25 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Arcas. Launch Vehicle: Super Arcas. LV Configuration: Super Arcas NASA 15.201UE.
  • Plasma mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 84 km (52 mi).

1980 February 16 - . 09:10 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Arcas. Launch Vehicle: Super Arcas. LV Configuration: Super Arcas NASA 15.202UE.
  • Plasma mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 78 km (48 mi).

1980 February 16 - . 20:30 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Astrobee. Launch Vehicle: Astrobee D. LV Configuration: Astrobee D NASA 23.18UE.
  • Plasma mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 76 km (47 mi).

1988 March 25 - . 19:50 GMT - . Launch Site: San Marco. LV Family: Scout. Launch Vehicle: Scout G. LV Configuration: Scout G-1 S206C.
  • San Marco D/L - . Payload: San Marco 5. Mass: 236 kg (520 lb). Nation: Italy. Agency: ASI. Class: Earth. Type: Atmosphere satellite. Spacecraft: San Marco. Decay Date: 1988-12-06 . USAF Sat Cat: 19013 . COSPAR: 1988-026A. Apogee: 625 km (388 mi). Perigee: 268 km (166 mi). Inclination: 3.0000 deg. Period: 93.50 min. Summary: Upper atmosphere studies; US, France, Italy participation. .

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