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

Aerolab Argo E-5 (Jason)

In the 1950s and 1960s, Aerolab created its Argo series of sounding rockets by combining readily available rocket stages into all-up vehicles. One of these was the five-stage Argo E-5 (called Jason by the USAF), which was designed and built within a few months in 1958 for a specific U.S. Air Force requirement. The Jason's solid-propellant stages were an M6 "Honest John" motor (from surplus M31 Honest John rockets), two M5 "Nike" boosters (from surplus M1 Nike missiles), a Thiokol XM19 Recruit and a Thiokol T-55 motor. The rocket could lift a payload of about 30 kg (65 lb) to altitudes above 800 km (500 miles), and the highest Jason flight reached 937 km (582 miles).


The first successful launch of an all-up Jason rocket occurred on 1 August 1958. The rocket was subsequently used by the Air Force for 19 launches between 15 August and 2 September that year to measure the effects of exoatmospheric nuclear explosions during Project Argus. The latter detonated three low-yield nuclear warheads in near-earth space, which created temporary "artificial Van-Allen belts" of charged particles around the earth.

Although the Argo E-5/Jason was successfully employed by the USAF, it wasn't further used after Project Argus. Instead, Aerolab created the similar four-stage Argo D-4/Javelin for the Air Force and NASA as a standard vehicle for measurements in the 500-1000 km region.


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

Data for Argo E-5 (Jason):

Length17.49 m (57 ft 4.4 in)
Finspan1st stage: 2.61 m (8 ft 6.9 in)
2nd stage: 1.51 m (4 ft 11.5 in)
3rd stage: 1.34 cm (4 ft 4.7 in)
Diameter1st stage: 58.1 cm (22.9 in)
2nd/3rd stage: 41.9 cm (16.5 in)
4th stage: 22.9 cm (9.0 in)
5th stage: 15.7 cm (6.2 in)
Weight3310 kg (7300 lb)
SpeedMach 12.5
Altitude> 500 km (800 miles)
Propulsion1st stage: ABL M6 solid-fueled rocket; 365 kN (82000 lb) for 5 s
2nd/3rd stage: ABL M5 solid-fueled rocket; 217 kN (48700 lb) for 3.5 s
4th stage: Thiokol XM19E1 Recruit solid-fueled rocket; 156 kN (35000 lb) for 1.5 s
5th stage: Thiokol T-55 (1.3KS4800) solid-fueled rocket; 21 kN (4800 lb) for 1.3 s

Main Sources

[1] Norman J. Bowman: "The Handbook of Rockets and Guided Missiles", Perastadion Press, 1963
[2] Frederick I. Ordway III, Ronald C. Wakeford: "International Missile and Spacecraft Guide", McGraw-Hill, 1960
[3] Mark Wade: Encyclopedia Astronautica
[4] Jonathan McDowell: Launch Vehicles Database
[5] Sounding Rocket Study of Eighteen Vehicles, Summary Report, Vought Astronautics for NASA Langley Research Center, April 1961

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

Last Updated: 13 July 2004