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

Rocket Power Inc. Raven

The Raven sounding rocket was developed in 1963 under a contract from the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR), which had a requirement for a simple vehicle to carry a 4.5 kg (10 lb) meteorological payload to 60 km (200000 ft) altitude. Rocket Power Inc. (RPI) developed the Hopi IV solid-fueled rocket motor for this purpose.

Photo: Richard Morrow

The distinguishing feature of the Raven was its acceleration to 180 m/s (600 fps) within the first second of flight, which made it less sensitive to high winds when compared to similar small sounding rockets. The rocket was tested by the ONR at White Sands Missile Range. A total of 70 Raven rockets were ordered from RPI, of which at least 25 were launched with mixed success.


In late 1963, the U.S. Army Electronics Research Lab expressed an interest in a two-stage meteorological sounding rocket with a performance which could be met by a Raven boosted by the motor of a Sidewinder missile.

Photo: Lt.Col. Roy Houchin II, via Morrow/Pines

The Army subsequently ordered 20 of the rockets from RPI. At least two (and likely more) were launched, but the Sidewinder-Raven was not selected for regular use.


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

Data for Raven, Sidewinder-Raven:

Length3.16 m (10 ft 4.4 in)5.16 m (16 ft 11 in)
Finspan52.1 cm (20.5 in)1st stage: 56 cm (22 in)
2nd stage: 52.1 cm (20.5 in
Diameter11.4 cm (4.5 in)1st stage: 12.7 cm (5 in)
2nd stage: 11.4 cm (4.5 in)
Weight50 kg (110 lb)94 kg (208 lb)
Speed?6400 km/h (3975 mph)
Altitude60 km (38 miles)140 km (87 miles)
Propulsion *RPI 8.5KS1800 Hopi IV; 7.7 kN (1740 lb) for 9 s 1st stage: Thiokol MK 17
2nd stage: RPI 8.5KS1800 Hopi IV; 7.7 kN (1740 lb) for 9 s
* All stages are solid-propellant rockets

Main Sources

[1] Richard B. Morrow, Mitchell S. Pines: "Small Sounding Rockets", Small Rocket Press, 2000
[2] Jonathan McDowell: Launch Vehicles Database

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

Last Updated: 9 December 2005