NASA Sounding Rockets Launch Log

         1959 1960
1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970
1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980
1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990
1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
2001 2002 2003 2004       


Sounding rockets are suborbital rocket vehicles that are used for upper atmospheric and space research. The term comes from the old nautical term "sound," which in this usage means remote measurement. Sailors measured the depth of the ocean by lowering a rope with regularly spaced knots to the bottom. They would then "sound off" the number of knots while hauling the rope back aboard. Likewise, sounding rockets take remote measurements of the upper atmosphere and space.

Sounding rockets are often used to investigate phenomena in the upper atmosphere between the maximum altitude of balloons (about 48 km) and the minimum altitude of satellites (about 160 km). However, some sounding rockets can reach altitudes of over 1500 km. They also carry astronomical instruments above the Earth's atmosphere and test prototype components intended for use in satellites. They are also often launched into localized phenomena such as auroral displays and solar eclipses.

Nearly all sounding rockets are simple unguided, fin-stabilized vehicles. They usually have one to four stages, although a few special-purpose vehicles have had as many as seven stages. All current sounding rockets use solid propellant rocket motors. Surplus military rocket motors from retired missiles are used in most sounding rockets (especially as boosters), as they are inexpensive and plentiful. Examples include the Hawk (Orion), Honest John (Taurus), M56 (Aries), Nike, Talos and Terrier. To further reduce the costs, the rocket payloads are frequently recovered by parachute and reused many times.


Numbering System for Rockets
1 - Aerobee 10022 - Black Brant IIIB
2 - Arcon23 - Astrobee D
3 - Nike-Asp24 - Aries
4 - Aerobee 150/150A25 - Astrobee F
5 - Iris26 - Aerobee 200
6 - Aerobee 30027 - Nike-Black Brant V
7 - Argo E-528 - Nike-Malemute
8 - Argo D-4 Javelin29 - Terrier-Malemute
9 - Skylark30 - Hawk (Orion)
10 - Nike-Cajun31 - Nike-Hawk (Orion)
11 - Argo D-8 Journeyman32 - Nike-Javelin
12 - Special Vehicles33 - Taurus-Orion
13 - Aerobee 17034 - Taurus-Tomahawk
14 - Nike-Apache35 - Black Brant X
15 - Arcas36 - Black Brant IX
16 - Astrobee 150037 - Viper-Dart
17 - Aerobee 35038 - Taurus-Nike-Tomahawk
18 - Nike-Tomahawk39 - Black Brant XI
19 - Black Brant IV40 - Black Brant XII
20 - Bullpup-Cajun41 - Terrier-Orion
21 - Black Brant VC42 - Terrier-Lynx

Identifying Letters for Agencies
A - Government agency other than N or DI - International
C - Industrial CorporationN - NASA center other than G or W
D - DoDU - College or university
G - GoddardW - Wallops

Identifying Letters for Disciplines
A - AeronomyL - Planetary Atmospheres
B - BiologyM - Meteorology
C - Cometary PhysicsP - Special Projects
E - Plasma PhysicsR - Radio Astronomy
G - Galactic AstronomyD - Solar Physics
H - High Energy AstrophysicsD - Test and Support
I - Ionospheric PhysicsU - Upper Atmosphere

Firing sites
ARGChamical, Argentina
ASCAscension Island
ARNEl Arenosillo, Spain
AUSWoomera, Australia
BRAAlcantara, Brazil
CPCape Parry, Canada
EGLEglin AFB, Florida
FCFort Churchill
GRCKoruni Beach, Greece
GRNSondre Stromfjord, Greenland
HAWBarking Sands, Hawai
INDThumba, India
KIKerguelen Islands
KRUKourou, French Guiana
NORAndoya, Norway
PAKKarachi, Pakistan
PBPoint Barrow, Alaska
PFTPoker Flat, Alaska
PMRPacific Missile Range, California
PRCamp Tortuguera, Puerto Rico
PRUChilca, Peru
RBResolute Bay, Canada
SDQSalto di Quirra, Sardinia, Italy
SHIPWallops Mobile Base, USNS Croatan
SMSan Marco, Kenya
SSSiple Station, Antarctica
WFCWallops Flight Facility
WSWhite Sands, New mexico
#BIBarter Island, Alaska (1970)
#CNChikuni (1979)
#FGFort Greely, Alaska (1971)
#FMFox Main, Canada (1971)
#FYFort Yukon (1984)
#KEKeweenaw, Michigan (1971)
#NZKarikari, New Zealand (1965)
#PLPrimrose Lake, Canada (1970)
#PNFort Sherman, Panama (1970)
#RLRed Lake, Canada (1979)
#SUCoronie, Surinam (1965)

Special Vehicles
12.001GT1961 May 02WFCS/SNike
12.003GT/GI1964 Apr 15WFCS/SArgo D4 Javelin
12.002GT1964 Dec 11WFCS/SAerobee 350 (2. Stage Dummy)
12.005GA1965 Mar 19WFCS/SNike-Tomahawk
12.006GT1966 Sep 20WSS/SAerobee 150
12.007GT1967 Sep 12WSF/FAerobee 150
12.009GT1967 Oct 03WFCF/SArcas
12.008GT1968 Feb 05WFCS/SD-Region Tomahawk
12.011GM1968 Apr 08WFCF/FArcas
12.010GT1968 Apr 17WFCS/SArcas
12.014GT1968 Sep 13WSS/SAerobee 150
12.016GT1968 Sep 20WFCS/SArcas
12.013GT1968 Oct 26WSS/SAerobee 150
12.004GT1969 Feb 28WFCS/SBlack Brant IIIB
12.015GT1969 May 01WFCS/SBlack Brant IIIB
12.012GM1969 Jun 12WFCS/SArcas
12.019GM1971 Mar 05KRUS/SNike-Cajun
12.022GT1971 Jul 09WSS/SAerobee 170B
12.020GT1972 Sep 26WFCS/SAstrobee F
12.018NE1972 Oct 15HAWS/SStrypi 7AR
12.021GT1974 May 08WSF/FAstrobee F
12.026GT/IT1975 Aug 18WSS/SAries
12.028WT1975 Sep 09WFCS/SNike-Hawk
12.031GT1975 Dec 16WSS/SNike-Tomahawk
12.029IT1976 Jan 10WFCS/SBlack Brant VC
12.034GT1976 Jan 15WFCF/FTerrier-Malemute
12.032GT1976 Jul 13WSS/SAerobee 170A
12.1776GT1976 Jul 18WFCF/FArgo D4 Javelin
12.033GT1976 Jul 26WSS/SAerobee 170A
12.036GT1976 Aug 11WFCS/STerrier-Malemute
12.027GT1977 Jul 14WSS/SOrion
12.1001WT1977 Jul 19WFCS/STaurus-Orion
12.1002WT1977 Dec 02WFCS/STaurus-Orion
12.1005WT1978 Oct 31WSS/STaurus-Tomahawk
12.1003UE1979 Mar 24PFTS/STaurus-Tomahawk
12.1004UE1979 Apr 01PFTS/STaurus-Tomahawk
12.037UE1979 Nov 13PFTS/SStrypi
12.038GT1981 Aug 14WFCS/SBlack Brant X
12.039WT1983 Sep 01WFCF/FTaurus-Nike-Tomahawk
12.040WT1983 Dec 14WFCS/STaurus-Nike-Tomahawk
12.041WT1988 Sep 30WFCS/SBlack Brant XII
12.042WT1989 Dec 02WFCS/SBlack Brant XII
12.043WT1989 Dec 21WFC Honest John
12.044WT1991 Mar 05WFC Terrier
12.045WT1992 Aug 27WFC Black Brant VIIIC
12.046WT1994 Apr 05WFC Terrier-imp.Orion
12.047WT1995 Jun 30WFC ?
12.048WT1996 Jun 10WFCF/FViper-3A
12.050DP2000 Dec 19WFCS/STerrier-Lynx
12.049UT2001 May 16WFCS/SViper
12.051UE2002 Jun 13WFCS/SViper
12.052GT2003 Aug 01WFCS/STerrier-imp.Orion
12.053GT2003 Oct 24WFCS/STerrier-imp.Orion
12.054GT2004 Apr 13WSS/STerrier-imp.Orion
12.061GT2004 Nov 24WSF/?Terrier-imp.Orion

(1) Rocket/Experiment

External Resources
NASA's Sounding Rocket Program
NASA's Sounding Rockets Motors and Vehicle Performance
NASA Sounding Rocket Project Results - Fiscal Year 1996
NASA Sounding Rocket Project Results - Fiscal Year 1997
NASA Sounding Rocket Project Results - Fiscal Year 1998
Poker Flat Research Range Main Page

Links to European Sounding Rockets Sites
European Suborbital Rockets
Andøya Rocket Range
Norwegian Space Center
Index of ESRANGE brochure
ESRANGE launches since 1991
DLR Mobile Rocket Base

Lists compiled by James J. Wentworth <>
Page maintained by Jean-Jacques Serra <>