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Military Origins of the Space Race

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The Scout Program


One of NASA's first tasks was to develop a reliable rocket to launch small satellites and probes into space. The result was Scout, the smallest launch vehicle in NASA's inventory.

Because NASA wanted the new rocket to be operational as quickly as possible, it used components from existing solid-propellant rockets to build the Scout. The first stage was adapted from the Navy's Polaris missile, the second stage from the Army's Sergeant missile, and the upper two stages from the Navy's Vanguard.

Since 1960 NASA has carried out more than 100 Scout launches, most of them placing satellites in Earth orbit for scientists, the Department of Defense, and customers from other nations. The last Scout was launched in 1994.

Scout launch
118 k jpeg
NASA#: 67-HC-503

In different configurations, the Scout family of launch vehicles could loft small satellites weighing up to 225 kilograms (500 pounds) into low Earth orbit.


Scout D diagramThis launch vehicle is a Scout-D, which had a more powerful first-stage motor that was introduced in 1972. This Scout-D was transferred to the Museum from NASA's Wallops Island launch facility in 1975. Its payload is the backup for the INJUN/Air Density Explorer (Explorer 40) satellite launched in 1968.

Transferred from NASA

Length: 22.5 m (74 ft)
Weight: 21,400 kg (47,200 lb)
Thrust: 477,000 newtons (107,200 lb)
Propellant: Solid
Manufacturer (prime): LTV Corp.

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