Rocket, Sounding, Arcas


Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

The Arcas is a low-cost single-stage recoverable meterological sounding rocket designed to carry payloads up to 23 pounds to altitudes of 200,000 feet and was designed by the Atlantic Research Corporation of Alexandria, Virginia specifically to carry meterological payloads. For this reason, in order not to damage sensitive instrumentation, the Arcas had a relatively low acceleration during liftoff. This also cut down on the cost of instrumentation and ground support equipment. The rocket's composite end-burning solid-fuel motor produced 336 pounds of thrust for 29 seconds.

The Arcas made its first test flight in 1958 and became operational in 1959. It was highly successful and a decade later some 6,000 had flown. Besides meteorological studies, the Arcas also carried small biological payloads. The Arcas was launched from a simple closed-breeched launcher requring only two men. It was flown from all U.S. and other rocket ranges world-wide and participated in NASA and international sounding rocket programs.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

Credit Line

Atlantic Research Corporation


Asbestos phenolic nose and other parts


Length, 91 inches; diameter, 4.5 inches; span, 13 inches; launch weight, 76 pounds (this specimen empty)

Country of Origin

United States of America


CRAFT-Missiles & Rockets

Inventory Number


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