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

University of Michigan/Army Strongarm

In 1959, the U.S. Army's Ballistic Research Laboratories developed the Strongarm sounding rocket together with the University of Michigan. The Strongarm was a five-stage solid-fueled rocket, using Honest John, Nike (2x), Yardbird and scaled Sergeant stages. It was launched for the first time on 10 November 1959.

Photo: via Ordway/Wakeford

The Strongarm was used by the Army with a payload to measure the electron density in the upper atmosphere at altitudes of more than 1600 km (1000 miles). The highest apogee reached was 2027 km (1260 miles). Seven electron density missions were successfully flown by the Army until 18 February 1961. The USAF also launched a single Strongarm on 27 July 1961. This rocket was of modified configuration, using a higher-thrust Thiokol Recruit fourth stage and no fifth stage.


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

Data for Strongarm:

Length17.22 m (56 ft 6 in)
Weight3230 kg (7125 lb)
Speed5950 km/h (3700 mph)
Altitude> 1600 km (1000 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 TE-289 Yardbird solid-fueled rocket; 75 kN (16850 lb) for 3.4 s
5th stage: JPL Baby Sergeant solid-fueled rocket; 8.6 kN (1930 lb) for 7.6 s

Main Sources

[1] Frederick I. Ordway III, Ronald C. Wakeford: "International Missile and Spacecraft Guide", McGraw-Hill, 1960
[2] Jonathan McDowell: Launch Vehicles Database

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

Last Updated: 30 November 2004