Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles
Nike-xxx
 
Copyright © 2005-2006 Andreas Parsch

Miscellaneous Nike-Boosted Rockets
(Nike-Javelin / Nike-Hydac / Nike-Nike / Nike-Orion)

This article summarizes all Nike-boosted sounding rockets, which were used at least once by the U.S. Air Force, but which are not mentioned in other articles of the Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles.

Nike-Javelin

Between May 1963 and March 1975, the USAF and the U.S. Army launched a total of at least 25 Nike-Javelin two-stage sounding rockets. The Javelin was a solid-propellant rocket stage built by Space Data Corp., and was also built as the modified Javelin 3. Six of the USAF's Nike-Javelin launches used the Javelin 3 as upper stage.

Nike-Hydac

The Space Data Hydac solid-propellant rocket was a derivative of the Javelin with a longer casing and a different propellant type. The U.S. Air Force launched 27 Nike-Hydac two-stage rockets between November 1966 and June 1983. The typical altitude was about 150 km (90 miles), but two early shots reached 250 km (155 miles).

Images: Orbital Sciences
Left: Nike-Javelin
Right: Nike-Hydac


Nike-Nike

Between May 1978 and October 1979, the USAF fired 7 Nike-Nike-boosted "Smoke" payloads (the whole vehicle is sometimes labeled Nike-Nike-Smoke). The payload consisted of a cone containing titanium tetrachloride (TiCl4), which was continuously released while the rocket ascended to an apogee of about 50 km (30 miles). The TiCl4 formed a highly visible smoke trail in the air, which made winds at all altitudes measurable by direct optical observation.

Nike-Orion

In the early 1970s, the U.S. Army replaced its MIM-23A Hawk surface-to-air missiles with the improved MIM-23B version, and thousands of Aerojet M22E8 solid-propellant rocket motors of MIM-23A missiles became surplus. The NASA realized that these motors would be useful upper stages for sounding rockets, and designed a payload section, new fins and a new tail around the motor casing. As a sounding rocket stage, the Hawk motors were called Orion. After a few Hawk/Orion single-stage firings in 1974, NASA launched the first two-stage Nike-Orion on 9 September 1975. NASA has since launched more than 175 Nike-Orions and is still using it today.

Photo: NASA, via Peter Alway
Nike-Orion


The U.S. Air Force launched three Nike-Orion rockets during a solar eclipse on 26 February 1979. The fourth and so far final USAF Nike-Orion was fired on 14 August 1987.

Specifications

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

Data for Nike-Javelin 3, Nike-Hydac, Nike-Orion:

 Nike-Javelin 3Nike-HydacNike-Orion
Length8.2 m (26 ft 11 in)9.1 m (29 ft 10 in)9.01 m (29 ft 6.5 in)
Diameter1st stage: 41.9 cm (16.5 in)
2nd stage: 23 cm (9 in)
1st stage: 41.9 cm (16.5 in)
2nd stage: 23 cm (9 in)
1st stage: 41.9 cm (16.5 in)
2nd stage: 35.6 cm (14 in)
Weight *900 kg (2000 lb)900 kg (2000 lb)1100 kg (2425 lb)
Altitude *> 100 km (60 miles)> 150 km (90 miles)140 km (85 miles)
2nd stage propulsion Space Data Javelin 3; 93 kN (20900 lb) Space Data Hydac; 58.7 kN (13200 lb) Aerojet/NASA Orion; 13 kN (2920 lb) for 32.5 s
* With typical payloads
† 1st stage for all: ABL M5 Nike, 217 kN (48700 lb) for 3.5 s; all stages are solid-propellant rockets

Main Sources

[1] Peter Alway: "Rockets of the World", Saturn Press, 1999
[2] Peter Alway: "Rockets of the World, 2003 Supplement", Saturn Press, 2003
[3] Jonathan McDowell: Launch Vehicles Database
[4] Mark Wade: Encyclopedia Astronautica


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





Last Updated: 17 January 2006