Sounding rocket
Overview
 
A sounding rocket, sometimes called a research rocket, is an instrument-carrying rocket
Rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

 designed to take measurements and perform scientific experiments during its sub-orbital
Sub-orbital spaceflight
A sub-orbital space flight is a spaceflight in which the spacecraft reaches space, but its trajectory intersects the atmosphere or surface of the gravitating body from which it was launched, so that it does not complete one orbital revolution....

 flight. The origin of the term comes from nautical vocabulary, where to sound is to throw a weighted line from a ship into the water to gauge the water's depth. Sounding in the rocket context is equivalent to taking a measurement.

The rockets are used to carry instruments from 50 to 1,500 kilometers above the surface of the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

, the altitude generally between weather balloon
Weather balloon
A weather or sounding balloon is a balloon which carries instruments aloft to send back information on atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity and wind speed by means of a small, expendable measuring device called a radiosonde...

s and satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

s (the maximum altitude for balloon
Balloon
A balloon is an inflatable flexible bag filled with a gas, such as helium, hydrogen, nitrous oxide, oxygen, or air. Modern balloons can be made from materials such as rubber, latex, polychloroprene, or a nylon fabric, while some early balloons were made of dried animal bladders, such as the pig...

s is about 40km and the minimum for satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

s is approximately 120km).
Encyclopedia
A sounding rocket, sometimes called a research rocket, is an instrument-carrying rocket
Rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

 designed to take measurements and perform scientific experiments during its sub-orbital
Sub-orbital spaceflight
A sub-orbital space flight is a spaceflight in which the spacecraft reaches space, but its trajectory intersects the atmosphere or surface of the gravitating body from which it was launched, so that it does not complete one orbital revolution....

 flight. The origin of the term comes from nautical vocabulary, where to sound is to throw a weighted line from a ship into the water to gauge the water's depth. Sounding in the rocket context is equivalent to taking a measurement.

The rockets are used to carry instruments from 50 to 1,500 kilometers above the surface of the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

, the altitude generally between weather balloon
Weather balloon
A weather or sounding balloon is a balloon which carries instruments aloft to send back information on atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity and wind speed by means of a small, expendable measuring device called a radiosonde...

s and satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

s (the maximum altitude for balloon
Balloon
A balloon is an inflatable flexible bag filled with a gas, such as helium, hydrogen, nitrous oxide, oxygen, or air. Modern balloons can be made from materials such as rubber, latex, polychloroprene, or a nylon fabric, while some early balloons were made of dried animal bladders, such as the pig...

s is about 40km and the minimum for satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

s is approximately 120km). Certain sounding rockets, such as the Black Brant X and XII, have an apogee between 1,000 and 1,500 kilometers; the maximum apogee of their class. Sounding rockets often use military surplus rocket motors. NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 routinely flies the Terrier
RIM-2 Terrier
The Convair RIM-2 Terrier was a two-stage medium-range naval surface-to-air missile , and was among the earliest surface-to-air missiles to equip United States Navy ships. Originally, the Terrier had a launch thrust of 23 kN , and weight of 1392 kg...

 Mk 70 boosted Improved Orion
Improved Orion
Improved Orion is the designation of an American sounding rocket. It has a maximum flight altitude of 85 km, a liftoff thrust of 7.00 kN, a total mass of 400 kg, a core diameter of 0.35 m and a total length of 5.60 m....

 lofting 270–450 kilogram payloads into the exoatmospheric region between 100 and 200 kilometers.

Design

A common sounding rocket consists of a solid-fuel rocket motor and a science payload. The freefall part of the flight is an elliptic trajectory
Elliptic orbit
In astrodynamics or celestial mechanics an elliptic orbit is a Kepler orbit with the eccentricity less than 1; this includes the special case of a circular orbit, with eccentricity equal to zero. In a stricter sense, it is a Kepler orbit with the eccentricity greater than 0 and less than 1 . In a...

 with vertical major axis
Semi-major axis
The major axis of an ellipse is its longest diameter, a line that runs through the centre and both foci, its ends being at the widest points of the shape...

 allowing the payload to appear to hover near its apogee. The average flight time is less than 30 minutes, usually between five and 20 minutes. The rocket consumes its fuel on the first stage of the rising part of the flight, then separates and falls away, leaving the payload to complete the arc and return to the ground under a parachute
Parachute
A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag, or in the case of ram-air parachutes, aerodynamic lift. Parachutes are usually made out of light, strong cloth, originally silk, now most commonly nylon...

.

Advantages

Sounding rockets are advantageous for some research due to their low cost, short lead time (sometimes less than six months) and their ability to conduct research in areas inaccessible to either balloons or satellites. They are also used as test beds for equipment that will be used in more expensive and risky orbital spaceflight
Orbital spaceflight
An orbital spaceflight is a spaceflight in which a spacecraft is placed on a trajectory where it could remain in space for at least one orbit. To do this around the Earth, it must be on a free trajectory which has an altitude at perigee above...

 missions. The smaller size of a sounding rocket also makes launching from temporary sites possible allowing for field studies at remote locations, even in the middle of the ocean, if fired from a ship.

Research applications

Sounding rockets are commonly used for:
  • Research in Aeronomy
    Aeronomy
    Aeronomy is the science of the upper region of the atmosphere, where dissociation and ionization are important. The term aeronomy was introduced by Sydney Chapman, and the above definition stems from 1960. Today the term also includes the science of the corresponding regions of the atmospheres of...

    , which requires this tool for in situ measurements in the upper atmosphere
  • Ultraviolet and X-ray astronomy
    X-ray astronomy
    X-ray astronomy is an observational branch of astronomy which deals with the study of X-ray observation and detection from astronomical objects. X-radiation is absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere, so instruments to detect X-rays must be taken to high altitude by balloons, sounding rockets, and...

    , which require being above the bulk of the Earth's atmosphere
  • Microgravity Research, which benefits from a few minutes of weightlessness
    Weightlessness
    Weightlessness is the condition that exists for an object or person when they experience little or no acceleration except the acceleration that defines their inertial trajectory, or the trajectory of pure free-fall...

     on rockets launched to altitudes of a few hundred kilometers

Operators and programmes

  • The British Skylark (rocket)
    Skylark (rocket)
    Skylark was a British sounding rocket design. The Skylark was first launched in 1957 from Woomera, Australia and its 441st and final launch took place from Esrange, Sweden on 2 May 2005...

     was first designed in 1955 and was used for 441 launches before it was terminated in 2005
  • India
    India
    India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

    's VSSC developed the Rohini sounding rockets series starting in 1967 that reached altitudes of 500 km
  • The Australian Space Research Institute (ASRI) operates a Small Sounding Rocket Program (SSRP) for launching payloads (mostly educational) to altitudes of about 7 km
  • The University of Queensland
    University of Queensland
    The University of Queensland, also known as UQ, is a public university located in state of Queensland, Australia. Founded in 1909, it is the oldest and largest university in Queensland and the fifth oldest in the nation...

     operates Terrier-Orion sounding rockets (capable of reaching altitudes in excess of 300 km) as part of their HyShot
    HyShot
    HyShot is a research project of The University of Queensland, Australia Centre for Hypersonics, to demonstrate the possibility of supersonic combustion under flight conditions and compare the results of shock tunnel experiments.- Overview :...

     hypersonics research
  • Iranian Space Agency
    Iranian Space Agency
    The Iranian Space Agency is Iran's governmental space agency. Iran is an active participant in the Asian space race and became an orbital-launch-capable nation in 2009...

     operated its first sounding rocket in February 2007
  • UP Aerospace
    UP Aerospace
    UP Aerospace, Inc. is a private spaceflight corporation based out of Denver, Colorado. UP Aerospace provides ultra-low cost space access and payload transportation for corporate, military and educational payloads, via their SpaceLoft XL Sounding rocket launch vehicles.- History and Future Plans...

     operates the UP Aerospace SpaceLoftXL sounding rockets that can reach altitudes of 225 km
  • TEXUS
    TEXUS
    TEXUS is a European/German sounding rocket programme, serving the microgravity programmes of ESA and DLR. The launches are conducted from Esrange in Sweden....

     and MiniTEXUS, German rocket programmes at Esrange
    Esrange
    Esrange Space Center is a rocket range and research centre located outside the town of Kiruna in northern Sweden. It is a base for scientific research with high altitude balloons, investigation of the aurora borealis, sounding rocket launches, and satellite tracking, among other things...

     for DLR
    German Aerospace Center
    The German Aerospace Center is the national centre for aerospace, energy and transportation research of the Federal Republic of Germany. It has multiple locations throughout Germany. Its headquarters are located in Cologne. It is engaged in a wide range of research and development projects in...

     and ESA microgravity research programmes
  • Astrium operates missions with sounding rockets on a commercial basis, as prime contractor to ESA or the German Aerospace Centre (DLR).
  • MASER
    Maser (rocket)
    Maser is a sounding rocket that is used in the MASER microgravity research rocket programme, which is operated by the Swedish Space Corporation . The main customer is the European Space Agency , and in particular its EMIR and ELIPS programmes....

    , Swedish rocket programme at Esrange
    Esrange
    Esrange Space Center is a rocket range and research centre located outside the town of Kiruna in northern Sweden. It is a base for scientific research with high altitude balloons, investigation of the aurora borealis, sounding rocket launches, and satellite tracking, among other things...

     for ESA microgravity research programmes
  • MAXUS
    Maxus (rocket)
    Maxus is a sounding rocket that are used in the MAXUS microgravity rocket programme, a joint venture between Swedish Space Corporation and EADS Astrium Space Transportation used by ESA...

    , German-Swedish rocket programme at Esrange
    Esrange
    Esrange Space Center is a rocket range and research centre located outside the town of Kiruna in northern Sweden. It is a base for scientific research with high altitude balloons, investigation of the aurora borealis, sounding rocket launches, and satellite tracking, among other things...

     for ESA microgravity research programmes
  • REXUS
    Rexus and Bexus
    REXUS/BEXUS is a European programme for student experiments on rockets and balloons...

    , German-Swedish rocket programme at Esrange
    Esrange
    Esrange Space Center is a rocket range and research centre located outside the town of Kiruna in northern Sweden. It is a base for scientific research with high altitude balloons, investigation of the aurora borealis, sounding rocket launches, and satellite tracking, among other things...

     for DLR
    German Aerospace Center
    The German Aerospace Center is the national centre for aerospace, energy and transportation research of the Federal Republic of Germany. It has multiple locations throughout Germany. Its headquarters are located in Cologne. It is engaged in a wide range of research and development projects in...

     and ESA student experiment programmes
  • The NASA Sounding Rocket Program
  • The JAXA operates the sounding rockets S-310
    S-310
    S-310 is the designation of a Japanese sounding rocket.The S-310 is a middle-size rocket for carrying various payloads. It is a single-stage sounding rocket, 310 mm in diameter, and can reach an altitude of 200 km...

    /S-520
    S-520
    S-520 is the designation of a Japanese sounding rocket.The S-520 is a powerful single-stage rocket which is optionally equipped with three-axis attitude control and a recovery system...

    /SS-520
  • New Zealand
    New Zealand
    New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

     company Rocket Lab
    Rocket Lab
    Rocket Lab Ltd. is a New Zealand firm that designs and fabricates sounding rockets and propulsion systems.The first launch of the Ātea-1 suborbital sounding rocket was scheduled for late 2009. The 6m long rocket weighing 60 kg is designed to carry a 2 kg payload to an altitude of...

     is developing the highly adaptable Atea series of sounding rockets to carry 5-70 kg payloads to altitudes of 250 km or greater

Other uses

The term sounding rocket is sometimes colloquially used to refer to the firework rockets used during the Diwali
Diwali
Diwali or DeepavaliThe name of the festival in various regional languages include:, , , , , , , , , , , , , popularly known as the "festival of lights," is a festival celebrated between mid-October and mid-December for different reasons...

 festival in India. The reference derives from these rockets making a high-pitch whistling sound during their ascent.

See also

  • Astrobee
    Astrobee
    Astrobee is the designation of series of American sounding rockets with 1 - 3 stages. Several versions were realized.The three-stage Astrobee 500 has a ceiling of 1000 km, a takeoff thrust of 161 kN, a takeoff weight of 900 kg, a diameter of 0.38 m and a length of 7.80 m.The three-stage Astrobee...

  • Black Brant
    Black Brant (rocket)
    The Black Brant is a Canadian-designed sounding rocket built by Bristol Aerospace in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Over 800 Black Brants of various versions have been launched since they were first produced in 1961, and the type remains one of the most popular sounding rockets ever built...

  • Boosted Dart
    Boosted Dart
    Boosted Dart is a United States single-stage sounding rocket of the Loki family. Between 1966 and 1968, 39 of these rockets were launched by NASA. The Boosted Dart has a length of 3.30 metres, a diameter of 0.1 metres and a maximum flight altitude of 75 kilometres....

  • Frank Malina
    Frank Malina
    Frank Joseph Malina was an American aeronautical engineer and painter, especially known for becoming both a pioneer in the art world and the realm of scientific engineering.-Early life:...

  • High Power Rocketry
  • Hopi Dart
    Hopi Dart
    Hopi Dart is the designation of an American sounding rocket. The Hopi Dart has a length of 3.30 meters, a diameter of 0.11 meters and a ceiling of 116 km. The Hopi Dart was launched 21 times during 1963 and 1964....

  • Kookaburra
    Kookaburra (rocket)
    Kookaburra is an Australian sounding rocket consisting of a Lupus-rocket as first stage and a Musca rocket as second stage. The Kookaburra was launched 33 times, from Woomera, South Australia, and from Gan, which is an atoll located in the Indian Ocean....

  • Mesquito
    Mesquito
    The Mesquito is a new sounding rocket vehicle developed for the NASA Sounding Rocket Program on Wallops Island, Virginia. The "skeeter" was developed to provide rocket-borne measurements of the mesospheric region of the upper atmosphere...

  • Model rocket
    Model rocket
    A model rocket is a small rocket that is commonly advertised as being able to be launched by anybody, to, in general, low altitudes and recovered by a variety of means....

  • Rocket Lab
    Rocket Lab
    Rocket Lab Ltd. is a New Zealand firm that designs and fabricates sounding rockets and propulsion systems.The first launch of the Ātea-1 suborbital sounding rocket was scheduled for late 2009. The 6m long rocket weighing 60 kg is designed to carry a 2 kg payload to an altitude of...

  • Rocketsonde
    Rocketsonde
    A rocketsonde, a kind of sounding rocket, is a system for atmospheric observations that consists of a rocket that launches instruments that can make weather observations up to an altitude of 75,000 m. Common meteorological rockets are the Loki and Super Loki.A typical rocket is 3.7 m tall and is...

  • Seliger Rocket
    Seliger Rocket
    Seliger Rocket is the designation for the sounding rockets of the Berthold Seliger Forschungs- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH. They were# A single-stage rocket with a length of 3.4 metres and a takeoff thrust of 50 kN...

  • Skylark
    Skylark (rocket)
    Skylark was a British sounding rocket design. The Skylark was first launched in 1957 from Woomera, Australia and its 441st and final launch took place from Esrange, Sweden on 2 May 2005...

  • USA V-2 period

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK