Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles|
Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles
|Copyright © 2005-2007 Andreas Parsch|
In 1985, the Sandia National Laboratories were given the task to develop a launch vehicle for anti-ballistic missile targets as an alternative to boosters using surplus Minuteman I rocket stages. It was feared that the supply of the latter could be depleted by the early 1990s. Sandia based its STARS (Strategic Target System) booster on surplus UGM-27C Polaris A3 SLBMs. In the STARS I configuration, the two Polaris stages were topped by an Orbus I solid-fueled third stage. STARS II adds a so-called ODES (Operations and Deployment Experiments Simulator) fourth stage, which acts like the post-boost vehicle (PBV) in a real ICBM.
|Photo: Sandia National Laboratories|
The STARS vehicle has seen only limited use so far, possibly because the anticipated shortage of Minuteman boosters did not materialize. The first test launch of a STARS I occurred on 26 February 1993, followed by the first launch of an actual target in August that year. Another target launch in November 2001 failed, but STARS I rockets have been used as target launch vehicles in all tests of the GBI (Ground-Based Interceptor) missile since December 2004. One of these launches was unsuccessful, leading to the abort of the GBI test FT-3 in May 2007. STARS II rockets have been fired only twice, in July 1994 and August 1996, to put multiple test objects on ballistic re-entry trajectories or into low-earth orbits.
Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!
Data for STARS I:
|Length||11.5 m (37 ft 9 in)|
|Diameter||1.37 m (4 ft 6 in)|
|Weight||16500 kg (36400 lb)|
|Ceiling||2500 km (1550 miles)|
|Range||5500 km (3420 miles)|
|Propulsion||1st stage: Aerojet General solid-fueled rocket|
2nd stage: Hercules X-260 solid-fueled rocket
3rd stage: UTC Orbus 1 solid-fueled rocket; 13.4 kN (3000 lb) for 39 s
Ballistic Missile Defense: Current Status of Strategic Target System, U.S. General Accounting Office Report GAO/NSIAD-95-78, 1995
 Jonathan McDowell: Launch Vehicles Database
Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4