Solid Rocket Motors Developed in 1950s

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About the interesting article by Matt Bille in Space News [“Fortune Favors the Bold — If the Bold Are Smart,” May 2, page 11], I would like to [point out] that the Vanguard launcher’s third stage hardly was the biggest solid-fuel stage at the time.

This Grand Central Rocket stage was first flown on May 1 , 1957, with the two-stage Vanguard TV-1 test flight. Incorporating 395 lbs of fuel, its length was 57 inches, and its diameter 18 inches.

In February/March 1953, General Electric already had successfully flown, in the frame of the Hermes program, four big RV-A-10 solid-fuel rockets. Its Thiokol motor had a length of 244 inches and a diameter of 31 inches. It used nearly 5,000 lbs of propellant.

Philippe Jung
President, History Commission
Association Aeronautique et Astronautique de France