Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles
Copyright © 2004 Andreas Parsch

Atlantic Research (Aerolab) Nike-Apache

By 1961, Thiokol had developed an improved version of its proven TE-82-1 Cajun rocket motor, which was in wide use in the Nike-Cajun sounding rocket. The new TE-307-2 Apache motor was externally almost identical to the Cajun, but used a new and more efficient slow-burning propellant grain for a smoother acceleration and a higher peak altitude. Like the Cajun, the Apache was never launched by itself, but always used as upper stage in multi-stage sounding rockets. The primary application was the Nike-Apache, which could lift a typical payload of 36 kg (80 lb) to about 200 km (125 miles) altitude. The highest Nike-Apache flight reached an apogee of 270 km (168 miles). Nike-Apache rounds were assembled by Aerolab Inc. (later absorbed into Atlantic Research Corp), which called the rocket the Argo B-13 in its Argo series of solid-fueled sounding rockets.

Photo: Michigan Technological University

The first Nike-Apache was fired by the U.S. Air Force on 17 February 1961. Until August 1966, the USAF launched more than 50 rockets of that type for aeronomy and ionosphere experiments. The U.S. Army used the rocket as one configuration of its XMQR-13A Ballistic Missile Target System. Primarily, however, the Nike-Apache was the standard NASA sounding rocket of the 1960s and 1970s, and until the final flight in September 1978, a total of almost 700 Nike-Apaches had been launched.


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for Nike-Apache:

Length8.31 m (327 in)
Finspan1st stage: 1.52 m (59.7 in)
2nd stage: 0.65 m (25.5 in)
Diameter1st stage: 41.9 cm (16.5 in)
2nd stage: 16.5 cm (6.5 in)
Weight760 kg (1680 lb)
Altitude200 km (125 miles)
Propulsion1st stage: ABL M5 solid-fueled rocket; 217 kN (48700 lb) for 3.5 s
2nd stage: Thiokol TE-307-2 Apache solid-fueled rocket; 21.1 kN (4750 lb) for 6 s

Main Sources

[1] Peter Alway: "Rockets of the World", Saturn Press, 1999
[2] Mark Wade: Encyclopedia Astronautica
[3] Jonathan McDowell: Launch Vehicles Database

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4

Last Updated: 12 July 2004