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Blue Scout II



Written and Edited by Cliff Lethbridge


Classification: Research Rocket/Space Launch Vehicle

Length: 71 feet, 11 inches

Diameter: 3 feet, 4 inches

Finspan: To Be Updated


Although the NASA Scout rocket program, as such, never flew from Cape Canaveral, it did produce U.S. Air Force relatives that were launched from the Cape. For that reason, the NASA Scout is discussed here even though the rocket was never launched from Cape Canaveral.

The Scout rocket was conceived in 1958 by NACA, which was exploring the development of a small, lightweight vehicle to launch satellites or perform high-altitude research relatively inexpensively.

The Scout program was assumed by the NASA Langley Research Center upon the creation of the space agency in October, 1958. In less than one year, the Scout design emerged as a four-stage vehicle capable of being used as a sounding rocket or lightweight satellite launcher.

NASA decided that all four stages would be solid-fueled, citing the relative simplicity and reliability of previously demonstrated solid-fuel technology.

In April, 1959, a production contract for the Scout rocket was issued to the Astronautics Division of Ling-Temco-Vought, a subsidiary of the Chance Vought Corporation.

The Scout first stage, called Algor, was controlled by the moveable outer tips of four stabilizer fins in conjunction with four exhaust deflector vanes. It burned for 40 seconds and could produce a thrust of 115,000 pounds.

This first stage concept was applied directly from the U.S. Navy Polaris missile program. The Scout second stage also had its roots in a military program.

The Scout second stage, called Castor, originated with the U.S. Army Sergeant rocket program. It burned for 39 seconds, was stabilized by hydrogen peroxide jets and could produce a thrust of 50,000 pounds.

The Scout third stage, called Antares, was applied from the Vanguard rocket program. The Antares third stage was an upgraded version of the Vanguard Altair third stage.

In its modified form as the Scout third stage, the upgraded Vanguard Altair third stage was simply renamed Antares. It burned for 39 seconds, was stabilized by hydrogen peroxide jets and could produce 13,600 pounds of thrust.

An actual Vanguard Altair third stage was incorporated as the fourth stage of the Scout rocket. The Altair fourth stage burned for 38 seconds, was spin-stabilized and could produce a thrust of 3,000 pounds.

Both the third and fourth stages were encased in a glass-fiber shield which included the payload shroud and a device to spin-stabilize the fourth stage.

The Scout was able to carry a 50-pound payload on a ballistic trajectory to an altitude of 8,500 miles or carry a 150-pound payload into low-Earth orbit.

The original NASA Scout was modified for specific U.S. Air Force applications under the designations Blue Scout I, Blue Scout II and Blue Scout Junior.

In addition, a single Blue Scout II rocket was modified by NASA for use in the Mercury program, and became known as the Mercury-Scout.

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