In 1977, the university of Rome and the San Marco Project officials proposed to develop an
improved version of the Scout launcher, used several times by this team. The most powerful version
at that time, Scout F1, was capable of orbiting approximately 200 kg at 550 km altitude from
the Italian base off the Kenyan coast. It comprised four solid motors (Algol IIIA, Castor IIA,
Antares IIB and Altair IIIA), measured 22 meters high and weighed 21 tons. The G1 version,
introduced in 1979, replaced the Antares IIB motor with an Antares IIIA which enhanced the
payload mass to 220 kg.
The San Marco Scout Project of the university of Rome consisted of using a "Santa Rita" booster, formed by a cluster of four Algol motors, 1.14 m in diameter, fixed to the original first stage. The cluster became the 1st stage, the central Algol the 2nd, Castor the 3rd and Antares the 4th stage on which was installed the payload of almost 600 kg that could be orbited at 550 km. By adding the Altair motor as fifth stage, the rocket could take 120 kg to geostationary orbit.
Since the beginning of the 80s, the BPD company made an internal study of the possibility of developing a small launcher using available solid motors, i.e. the Ariane boosters then under development, and motors of the Alfa missile cancelled in 1977. After having studied various configurations, BPD concentrated from 1986 on the SB7 concept (Solid Booster 7), a 4-stage solid rocket. The 1st stage would use four Ariane 4 boosters with swivelling nozzles, surrounding the 2nd stage using another Ariane 4 booster, surmounted by the 3rd stage using an Ariane 3 booster. The 4th stage was to be derived from the IRIS motor, initially conceived as an upper stage for launching Italian satellites from the Shuttle. The SB7 launcher would have measured 23 m in height and weighed approximately 50 t, and would have been able to launch a 500 kg payload to orbit at 500 km altitude from the San Marco platform.
In 1987, the two projects were regrouped, and SNIA-BPD and LTV began a common study of a
launcher named Eagle Scout, capable of orbiting a payload of about 520 kg, double that of the
Scout, for a cost equal to 150% of the American launcher. This project was to upgrade the
classic Scout by adding two boosters derived from that of Ariane 3 with a modified propellant
composition to obtain a variable thrust. These new boosters constituting the 1st stage were
fired before the central body keeping the Algol motor that then became the 2nd stage. The 4th
stage of the Scout G1 was replaced by the European AKM Mage 2.
The Eagle Scout, renamed Scout 2 in 1988, was to be used initially, from the San Marco range, for the TOPAS German-Italian project for launching recoverable ballistic capsules destined for European microgravity experiments.
By 1990, the CIPE (Comitato Interministeriale per la Programmazione Economica) approved
project San Marco Scout by financing the modernization of the San Marco platform and the
development of the Scout 2 launcher. Several decisions were made:
- the San Marco range would be equipped with new tracking radars, telemetering reception and logistic support for the implementation of the Scout 2
- the Scout 2 would keep the three first stages of Scout G1 but replacing the upper motor with a Mage 2 and by adding two Ariane solid boosters. The fairing would be enlarged to 1.35 m diameter (instead of 1.067 m for the largest G1 shroud)
- its launcher preparation would be in parallel with the development of a recoverable capsule named Carina (Capsula di Rientro Non Abitata) adapted to use the Scout 2.
For several reasons this program, that expected a first launch of Carina in 1992, has not been completed. A unique flight test was undertaken on 19 March 1992 from Salto di Quirra, with the central motor of the new launcher - an Ariane 4 PAP with swivelling nozzle - and two dummy boosters.
University of Roma - San Marco Project