Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 1: Early Missiles and Drones
Copyright © 2003 Andreas Parsch

Ford RM-89 Blue Scout I

In the late 1950s, the NASA established the Scout program to develop a multistage solid-propellant space booster and research rocket. The U.S. Air Force also participated in the program, but different requirements led to some divergence in the development of NASA and USAF Scouts. The USAF Scout program was known as HETS (Hyper Environmental Test System) or System 609A, and the rockets were generally referred to as Blue Scout. The prime contractor for the NASA Scout was LTV, but the Blue Scout prime contractor was Ford Aeronutronics.

The basic NASA Scout configuration, from which all variants were derived, was known as Scout X-1. It was a four-stage rocket, which used the following motors:

The Scout X-1 first flew successfully on 10 October 1960, after an earlier failure in July 1960. The rocket's first stage had four stabilizing fins, and the vehicle incorporated a gyro-based guidance system for attitude stabilization to keep the rocket on course.

Photos: USAF

By using different combinations of rocket stages, the USAF created several different Blue Scout configurations. One of these was the XRM-89 Blue Scout I, which was a three-stage vehicle, omitting the basic Scout's Altair 4th stage. The first launch of an XRM-89 occurred on 7 January 1961, and was mostly successful. On that flight, the XRM-89 carried a variety of experiments to measure rocket performance and high-altitude fields and particle radiation. The payload was located in a recoverable reentry capsule, but the capsule sunk in the water before it could be recovered. The only other XRM-89 launches (in May 1961 and April 1962) were unsuccessful, and the Blue Scout I program was terminated in 1962.

Other USAF Scout versions were the RM-90 Blue Scout II, the RM-91 Blue Scout Junior (which was by far the most important and successful variant), and the RM-92 Air Force Scout.


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

Data for XRM-89:

Length21.65 m (71 ft 0.4 in)
Finspan2.84 m (9 ft 4 in)
Diameter1st stage: 102 cm (40 in)
2nd stage: 79 cm (31 in)
3rd stage: 76 cm (30 in)
Weight15900 kg (35000 lb)
Speed21600 km/h (13400 mph)
Ceiling> 1600 km (1000 miles)
Propulsion1st stage: Aerojet General Algol 1 solid-fueled rocket; 470 kN (106000 lb) for 40 s
2nd stage: Thiokol XM33 (TX-354-3) Castor 2 solid-fueled rocket; 259 kN (58300 lb) for 37 s
3rd stage: Allegany Ballistics Lab X-254 Antares 1A solid-fueled rocket; 60.5 kN (13600 lb) for 39 s

Main Sources

[1] Peter Alway: "Rockets of the World, 2000 Supplement", Saturn Press, 2000
[2] Norman J. Bowman: "The Handbook of Rockets and Guided Missiles", Perastadion Press, 1963

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 1

Last Updated: 7 January 2003