Nike (rocket stage)

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Early Booster Missile Nike I (three fin model).

The Nike stage or Nike booster, a solid fuel rocket motor, was created by Hercules Aerospace for the Nike Ajax (M5) Nike Hercules (M5E1) (and M88 late in Hercules career).[1][2] It was developed for use as the first stage of the Nike Ajax and Nike Hercules missiles as part of Project Nike.[3]

It was subsequently employed in a variety of missiles and multi-stage sounding rockets, becoming one of the most popular and reliable rocket stages, not only in the United States, but also in several other countries around the world.[4]

Sounding rockets based on Nike Booster[edit]

A Nike Orion rocket in flight
  • The Nike Deacon has a ceiling of 189 km, a takeoff thrust of 217 kN, a takeoff weight of 710 kg, a diameter of 0.42 m and a length of 7.74 m.[4][5]
  • The Nike Javelin was launched 34 times between 1964 and 1978. The maximum flight altitude of the Nike Javelin was 130 km, the takeoff thrust 217 kN, takeoff weight 900 kg, 0.42 m and length 8.20 m.[6][7]
  • The Nike Malemute consists of a Nike starting stage and a Malemute upper stage. It has a ceiling of 500 km (310 mi), a takeoff thrust of 48,800 lbf (217 kN), a takeoff weight of 1,000 kg (2,200 lb), a diameter of 0.42 m (17 in) and a length of 8.60 metres (28 feet 3 inches).[8]
  • The Nike Orion has a Nike base stage, taken from U.S. Army surplus stocks, and an Orion upper stage. The Nike Orion is 9.01 metres (29 feet 7 inches) long. There are two stages of boosters; the first is 41.9 cm (16.5), and the second is 35.6 cm (14.0 in). It has a launch weight of 1,100 kilograms (2,400 pounds), a launch thrust of 217 kN (48,800 lbf) and a ceiling of 140 km (460,000 ft).[9][2] The first Nike-Orion rocket was launched on February 26, 1977, and had more than 175 launches through the 2000s.
A Nike Tomahawk photographed at Wallops Flight Facility.
  • The Nike Recruit has an apogee of 5 km, a liftoff thrust of 217 kN, a total mass of 1100 kg and a total length of 8.00 m.[10]
  • The Nike Tomahawk has a Nike rocket as the first stage, and a Tomahawk rocket as the second. The Nike Tomahawk has a ceiling of 230 statute miles (370 km), a payload capacity of 100 pounds (45 kg), a launch thrust of 49,000 pounds of force (217 kN), a launch weight of 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg), a diameter of 17 inches (0.43 m) and a length of 35 feet 5 inches (10.80 m). The Nike Tomahawk was launched 395 times between June 25, 1963, and November 27, 1995.[11][12] One of its launches was in 1966 on the beach in Cassino, Rio Grande, Brazil.
  • The Nike Viper consists of a Nike starting stage and a Viper upper stage. The Nike Viper has a ceiling of 80 km, a takeoff thrust of 217 kN (48,800 lbf), a takeoff weight of 600 kg and a length of 8.00 m.[13][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Nike M5 (and M5E1, M88) Scale Data". 28 January 2012. Retrieved 2020-09-21.
  2. ^ a b Parsch, Andreas. "Miscellaneous Nike-Boosted Rockets". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles. pp. Appendix 4. Retrieved 2016-03-03.
  3. ^ Ed Thelen's Nike Missile Web Site.
  4. ^ a b Corliss 1972 p. 24
  5. ^ Nike-Deacon at Encyclopedia Astronautica
  6. ^ Corliss 1972 p. 82
  7. ^ Nike Javelin at Encyclopedia Astronautica
  8. ^ Encyclopedia Astronautica Nike Malamute Info
  9. ^ "Nike Orion". Archived from the original on December 28, 2016. Retrieved 2019-06-01.
  10. ^ Article title
  11. ^ Corliss 1972 p. 63-64
  12. ^ Nike Tomahawk
  13. ^ Nike Viper I
  14. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "Nike With Upper Stage". Gunter's Space Page. pp. Nike With Upper Stage. Retrieved 2016-03-03.


  • Corliss, William R (1971). NASA Sounding Rockets, 1958-1968. Washington D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

External links[edit]