Encyclopedia Astronautica
White Sands LC38


Nike Zeus launch complex. LC 38 (Army Launch Area Five) was originally built in the 1960's for test of the Nike Zeus anti-ballistic missile. The Nike Zeus system required elaborate infrastructure to house the large missiles, and even larger assembly of radars, computers, and electronics. There were two R&D Zeus Launch Cells and later one tactical Launch Cell. In 1969 LC-38 was modified for test of the Patriot surface-to-air missile system, which eventually was developed to be capable against short-range ballistic missiles. The complex continued to be used for Patriot testing into the 21st Century.

The launch location was at the western edge of LC-38. The two R&D cells were located at the site of the present large building and its parking lot to the east. The smaller building east of the large building was the Launch Control Building (an underground control room). The Tactical Cell was located to the far side of the complex east of the control building.

By the late 1960's Nike Zeus evolved into Nike-X, and then Spartan. Testing of the missile was moved to Kwajalein Atoll in the south Pacific. LC-38 was thereafter used only for assembly and check out of the Sprint short-range last-ditch interceptor missile portion of the Safeguard Spartan/Sprint ABM system. Zeus radars continued in use as part of a re-entry radar signature study.

In 1969 LC-38 was modified for test of the Patriot surface-to-air missile system, which eventually was developed to be capable against short-range ballistic missiles. The complex continued to be used for Patriot testing into the 21st Century.

Longitude: -106.2796 deg.
Latitude: 32.4179 deg.
First Launch: 1959.08.26.
Last Launch: 1963.12.11.
Number: 51 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Nike Zeus A American anti-ballistic missile. Two stage vehicle consisting of 1 x TX-135 + 1 x Zeus A More...
  • Nike Zeus American anti-ballistic missile. First anti-ballistic missile tested by US. Protoypes were deployed operationally from the mid-Pacific test base as nuclear-tipped ASAT missiles. Cancelled 1966; replaced by the Spartan missile. More...

Associated Launch Sites
  • White Sands White Sands Missile Range occupies an area 160 x 65 km in the Tularosa Basin of southern New Mexico, across the Sacramento Mountain range from Roswell. In the 1930's, Robert Goddard, after surveying weather conditions and population densities, had selected Roswell for his pioneering rocket tests. White Sands, a true desert area, was even more unpopulated than Roswell. German advances in rocketry during World War II impelled the US Army to begin programs to exploit this technology. The White Sands Proving Ground was established for testing German and American long-range rockets on 9 July 1945. Seven days later the first atomic bomb was exploded at Trinity Site, near the north boundary of the range. The first launch of a Tiny Tim rocket was on 26 September 1945. On 11 October a Tiny Tim boosted a WAC Corporal rocket from the tower. This was the first use of Launch Complex 33, later to be used for V-2, Nike, Viking, Corporal, Lance and Multiple Launch Rocket System testing. More...

White Sands LC38 Chronology


1959 August 26 - . 17:35 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus A. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus A 101 1. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1959 October 14 - . 16:30 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus A. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus A 2.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 50 km (31 mi).

1959 December 16 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus A. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus A 3. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 10 km (6 mi).

1960 March 9 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus A. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus A 5.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 50 km (31 mi).

1960 April 28 - . 14:50 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus 6.
  • First Silo launch - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1960 May 25 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus A. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus A 7.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 50 km (31 mi).

1960 June 22 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus 8. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1960 August 10 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus 9.
  • First Tactical launch - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1960 October 1 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1960 December 1 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus.
  • Guidance test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1960 December 1 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1961 Q1 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus.
  • - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1961 May 25 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1961 June 23 - . 23:40 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1961 Q3 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1961 Q3 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1961 July 26 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1961 August 31 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus.
  • New mainstage test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1961 September 15 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 40 km (24 mi).

1961 November 15 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1961 November 15 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1961 November 30 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • First suc 3-stage - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1961 December 14 - . 21:00 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus.
  • Hercules intercept - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 40 km (24 mi).

1962 February 1 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • 3 stage control test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1962 February 7 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1962 March 13 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Simulated target - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1962 March 13 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Simulated target - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1962 March 28 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Hercules intercept - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 40 km (24 mi).

1962 April 5 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Simulated target - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1962 April 27 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1962 April 30 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Simulated target - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1962 July 16 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Requal test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1962 August 28 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1962 September 27 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Simulated target - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1962 November 8 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1962 November 29 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Simulated target - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1962 December 17 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • DM-15S Test 1 - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 180 km (110 mi).

1963 February 16 - . 00:30 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • DM-15S Test 2 - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 240 km (140 mi).

1963 February 20 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1963 April 18 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1963 April 24 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1963 May 10 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 20 km (12 mi).

1963 June 5 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1963 July 1 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1963 July 3 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1963 July 26 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Nike X R&D test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1963 August 8 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1963 August 15 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • K-26 Titan Intercept - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1963 October 23 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1963 November 1 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

1963 December 11 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC38. LV Family: Nike Zeus. Launch Vehicle: Nike Zeus. LV Configuration: Nike Zeus-3.
  • Nike X R&D, last WS test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).

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