Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles
Copyright © 2003 Andreas Parsch


Project Caleb was a follow-on program to the Pilot (NOTSNIK) program of the Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) at China Lake. Originally, the Caleb vehicle, also designated NOTS-EV-2, was to be a launcher for small orbital payloads, like quick-reaction reconnaissance satellites. However, the orbital Caleb program was soon cancelled, reportedly because of pressure from the USAF which wanted to monopolize the satellite launching program. The NOTS-EV-2 was designed as an air-launched four-stage all-solid rocket vehicle. The stages were a NOTS-500, an ABL X-248, a NOTS-100A and a small spherical NOTS motor.

The first test launch, with one live stage only, occurred on 28 July 1960 from an F4D-1 Skyray aircraft (the same as used for the Pilot tests), and was successful. A second flight in October that year was to fly a vehicle with two live stages, but the second one failed to ignite. Starting on 5 October 1961, three sub-orbital two-stage Caleb rockets were launched under the U.S. Navy's Hi-Hoe sounding rocket program. These flights used an F4H-1 (F-4B) Phantom aircraft for higher performance. The first two Hi-Hoe flights were unsuccessful because of upper-stage failures, but the final one on 26 July 1962 reached an altitude of 1167 km (725 miles). Source [2] claims that the Caleb vehicles for Hi-Hoe were of a significantly modified design (new fins, enlarged forebody), but the drawing is apparently of a proposal for a sounding rocket based on the AIR-2 Genie. Actual photos show that the Hi-Hoe vehicles were similar to the original NOTS-EV-2 of 1960, except for a non-tapered forebody.

Photos: U.S. Navy (via Gary Verver collection)
Caleb (NOTS-EV-2) Hi-Hoe (NOTS-EV-2)

The NOTS-EV-2 rocket was also used in the SIP (Satellite Interceptor Program) project, an attempt to develop an air-launched ASAT (anti-satellite) missile. Two NOTS-EV-2 vehicles were ground-launched in SIP-related tests in October 1961 and May 1962, respectively. The ASAT project was possibly also known as "NOTSNIK II".

Photo: U.S. Navy


Physical dimensions for the NOTS-EV-2 Caleb rocket are not available.

Main Sources

[1] Andrew J. LePage: "NOTSNIK: The Navy's Secret Satellite Program", article in "Spaceviews", July 1998 (available online here)
[2] Comments on Caleb by Joel W. Powell and K.W. Gatland; published in "Spaceflight" magazine (available online here)
[3] Gunter's Space Page

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

Last Updated: 23 October 2003