From Eaton Canyon to the Sergeant Missile: Solid-Propellant Rocket Developments, 1940–1962

J. D. Hunley

in Preludes to U.S. Space-Launch Vehicle Technology

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780813031774
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038551 | DOI:
From Eaton Canyon to the Sergeant Missile: Solid-Propellant Rocket Developments, 1940–1962

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This chapter focuses on developments at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory after World War II. Until the mid-1950s, the main efforts in the evolution of large surface-to-surface missiles in the United States focused on liquid propellants. This changed in the mid- to late 1950s with the Polaris and Minuteman programs. Those two missiles inaugurated a major shift in ballistic-missile technology away from liquids. After their successful development, most intermediate range and intercontinental ballistic missiles came to use solid propellants, freeing up many liquid-propellant missiles for modification and use as launch vehicles. In the meantime, as an array of achievements in solid-propellant rocket technology prepared the way for the breakthrough that enabled the success of the Polaris and Minuteman, they also led toward the use of solid-propellant boosters for a variety of launch vehicles—notably Titan III, Titan IV, and the space shuttles, but also Scout and upper stages for Delta.

Keywords: Jet Propulsion Laboratory; rocket technology; rocket development; surface-to-surface missiles; propellants; launch vehicles; Polaris; Minuteman; ballistic missiles

Chapter.  5590 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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