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Aries
Part of Minuteman Family
Aries
Aries
Credit: via Andreas Parsch
American target missile. Space Vector Corporation developed and flew the Aries test vehicle (based on the Minuteman 1 second stage) for Strategic Defense Initiative payloads.

Status: Active. First Launch: 1973-10-17. Last Launch: 1996-07-09. Number: 47 . Thrust: 200.00 kN (44,960 lbf). Gross mass: 6,300 kg (13,800 lb). Height: 9.20 m (30.10 ft). Diameter: 1.16 m (3.80 ft). Apogee: 500 km (310 mi).

The Naval Research Laboratory contracted with Space Vector Corporation to develop a single-stage sounding rocket using surplus Minuteman I second stages. Informally called 'Fat Albert', the first was launched with a dummy payload on 17 October 1973.

The Aries mated the Aerojet M56 solid-propellant rocket stage to four fixed tail fins (surplus from retired Talos missiles) and a nose cone. Four gimbaled nozzles provided steering, keyed by a new guidance and control system. Since it was not an unguided rocket, the Aries could be launched from confined firing ranges. The Aries was later used by NASA to launch X-ray and UV telescopes into space. Maximum payload capacity was 1590 kg / 3500 lb. USAF and NASA launched more than 20 Aries rockets on scientific missions until the early 1990s.

The Aries was also used by the military as a target launch vehicle for tests of anti-ballistic missiles. The majority of these tests launched targets for the U.S. Navy's RIM-156B SM-2 Block IV A and RIM-161 SM-3 interceptor missiles. Until the end of 2004, a total of more than 50 Aries rockets had been launched, and use as a ballistic missile target vehicle is continuing. Prime contractor for Aries-type target boosters was later Orbital Sciences Corporation, which renamed the rocket the TTV (Target Test Vehicle).

Historical Essay © Andreas Parsch

The retirement of the U.S. Air Force's LGM-30A-B Minuteman I ICBM in the late 1960s and early 1970s made hundreds of high-performance solid-fueled rocket stages surplus. In 1971, the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) realized, that the second stage of the Minuteman I could be used to create a powerful single-stage sounding rocket, and contracted Space Vector Corp. (SVC) to build this vehicle. The rocket was initially called "Fat Albert", but the name was soon changed to Aries. The first Aries was successfully launched with a dummy payload on 17 October 1973.

The Aries was essentially an Aerojet M56 solid-propellant rocket stage fitted with four fixed tail fins and a nose cone. The M56 was steered by four gimballed nozzles, and SVC developed a new guidance and control system which was more suited to sounding rockets than the one of the ICBM. Other than most sounding rockets, the Aries was thus a fully guided missile and could therefore be used from relatively confined firing ranges. It was also by far the most powerful single-stage sounding vehicle, and could lift a payload of 820 kg (1800 lb) to more than 320 km (200 miles). The highest apogee reached by an Aries was 512 km (318 miles).

After the first two Aries tests, the configuration was slightly changed. The tail skirt was altered and the original fins (which had been taken from surplus RIM-8 Talos missiles) were replaced by a new design. The Aries was used by NASA to launch especially large and heavy payloads above the atmosphere, like X-ray and UV telescopes. Maximum payload capacity was 1590 kg (3500 lb). USAF and NASA launched more than 20 Aries rockets on scientific missions until the early 1990s.

The Aries was also used by the military as a target launch vehicle for tests of anti-ballistic missiles. The majority of these tests launched targets for the U.S. Navy's RIM-156B SM-2 Block IV A and RIM-161 SM-3 interceptor missiles. Until the end of 2004, a total of more than 50 Aries rockets has been launched, and use as a ballistic missile target vehicle is continuing. Current prime contractor for Aries-type target boosters is Orbital Sciences Corporation, which is calling the rocket the TTV (Target Test Vehicle).

Specifications

Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

  • Length 7.80 m (25 ft 7 in) - 10.62 m (34 ft 10 in)
  • Diameter 1.13 m (44.4 in)
  • Finspan 2.86 m (9 ft 4.5 in)
  • Weight 6060 kg (13370 lb) - 7150 kg (15760 lb)
  • Altitude > 320 km (200 miles)
  • Propulsion Aerojet M56 solid-fueled rocket; 207 kN (46500 lb) for 62 s


More at: Aries.

Subtopics

ERIS American anti-ballistic missile. Flight test vehicle for Exoatmospheric Re-Entry Interceptor Subsystem, an anti-ballistic missile hit-to-kill interceptor warhead. The ERIS vehicle itself consisted of surplus Minuteman ICBM second and third stages.

M56A1 American single-stage target missile using Minuteman 1 second stage.

Family: target. Country: USA. Launch Sites: Wallops Island, White Sands, Cape Canaveral, San Nicolas, White Sands LC36, Cape Canaveral LC20, Barking Sands, Kiruna, Barking Sands LC1, Eareckson, Kiruna A, Matagorda Island, Kodiak. Stages: M56A-1. Agency: Space Vector. Bibliography: 2.

1973 October 17 - . 21:03 GMT - . Launch Site: San Nicolas. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • Dummy payload test - . Nation: USA. Agency: NRL. Apogee: 270 km (160 mi).

1974 June 18 - . 14:15 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • Test / astronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NRL. Apogee: 300 km (180 mi).

1974 December 28 - . 06:00 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Crab Occultation Astronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NRL. Apogee: 10 km (6 mi).

1975 August 18 - . 12:45 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • IMS Prototype test - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 417 km (259 mi).

1976 March 30 - . 20:27 GMT - . Launch Site: Kiruna. Launch Complex: Kiruna A. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries. FAILURE: Failure.
  • DLR K-AR-75 Porc. F1 Magnetospheric mission - . Nation: Germany. Agency: DLR, NASA. Apogee: 360 km (220 mi).

1976 December 16 - . 01:10 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • IMS Test Rocket Test / astronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NRL. Apogee: 512 km (318 mi).

1977 January 26 - . 08:25 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • Astro 8-1 (A8) X-ray astronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NRL. Apogee: 347 km (215 mi).

1977 March 20 - . 19:22 GMT - . Launch Site: Kiruna. Launch Complex: Kiruna A. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • DLR K-AR-82 Porc. F2 Magnetospheric mission - . Nation: Germany. Agency: DLR, NASA. Apogee: 460 km (280 mi).

1977 November 11 - . 04:00 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • TEM-1 ABM infrared sensor technology mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF GL. Apogee: 228 km (141 mi).

1978 June 12 - . 08:45 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • Astro 8-2 X-ray astronomy / microgravity mission - . Nation: Germany. Agency: DFVLR. Apogee: 355 km (220 mi).

1979 January 28 - . 06:06 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • SPICE 1 Infrared astronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF GL. Apogee: 249 km (154 mi).

1979 March 19 - . 22:57 GMT - . Launch Site: Kiruna. Launch Complex: Kiruna A. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • DLR K-AR-92 Porc. F3 Magnetospheric mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 460 km (280 mi).

1979 March 31 - . 22:29 GMT - . Launch Site: Kiruna. Launch Complex: Kiruna A. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • DLR K-AR-93 Porc. F4 Magnetospheric mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 452 km (280 mi).

1980 May 21 - . 12:08 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • TEM-2 ABM infrared / ultraviolet sensor technology mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF. Apogee: 232 km (144 mi).

1980 August 18 - . 09:50 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • ZIP I (BMP) Infrared astronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF GL. Apogee: 401 km (249 mi).

1980 September 20 - . 01:30 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • LCXT X-ray astronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 309 km (192 mi).

1981 February 4 - . 01:10 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • IRBS (BMP) ABM infrared sensor limb characterization technology mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF GL. Apogee: 387 km (240 mi).

1981 April 27 - . 23:15 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • JHU Aries-UVT Ultraviolet astronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 263 km (163 mi).

1981 July 31 - . 10:50 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • ZIP II (BMP) Infrared astronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF GL. Apogee: 395 km (245 mi).

1982 January 23 - . 08:00 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • FIRSSE (BMP) ABM infrared sensor technology / infrared technology mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF GL. Apogee: 378 km (234 mi).

1982 May 28 - . 15:47 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • TEM-3 ABM infrared sensor technology mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF GL. Apogee: 236 km (146 mi).

1982 June 18 - . 04:45 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • 1m UVT Extreme ultraviolet astronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 247 km (153 mi).

1982 September 9 - . 10:17 GMT - . Launch Site: Matagorda Island. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • Conestoga 1 test - . Nation: Germany. Agency: DLR, SSI. Apogee: 309 km (192 mi). Launch vehicle using surplus Minuteman I components. The launch from Matagorda Island for was for publicity purposes and unrelated to Space Service's other planned launch vehicles, also named Conestoga..

1982 September 15 - . 04:49 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • SPICE 2 Infrared astronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF GL. Apogee: 359 km (223 mi).

1983 October 25 - . 11:26 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • ELC-I (infrared limb) Infrared astronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF GL. Apogee: 282 km (175 mi).

1983 November 27 - . 23:15 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • Ultraviolet astronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 300 km (180 mi).

1986 August 24 - . 04:40 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries. FAILURE: Failure.
  • X-ray astronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 23 km (14 mi).

1986 September 5 - . 16:30 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • Delta 180 Target Target mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: SDIO. Apogee: 300 km (180 mi).

1987 July 27 - . Launch Site: Eareckson. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • ABM infrared sensor technology mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: SDIO. Apogee: 300 km (180 mi).

1988 August 1 - . Launch Site: Eareckson. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • Recovery failed ABM infrared sensor technology mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: SDIO. Apogee: 300 km (180 mi).

1989 July 1 - . Launch Site: Eareckson. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • ABM infrared sensor technology mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: SDIO. Apogee: 300 km (180 mi).

1989 July 13 - . 08:30 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • BEAR Active plasma mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: SDIO. Apogee: 195 km (121 mi).

    The Beam Experiment Aboard Rocket (BEAR) payload was recovered with minimal damage via parachute after an 11-minute flight to a maximum altitude of 195 km. The neutral partical beam experiment was provided by Los Alamos National Laboratory. The Attitude Control System spun-up the payload at various rates and orientations with respect to the earths magnetic field after separation from the booster. After re-entry, at 5,000 m, the nose was jettisoned and the recovery parachute system deployed. The payload impacted the ground at less than 30 feet per second. The BEAR mission was declared a total success by SDIO.


1990 April 27 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • EXCEDE-3 Active plasma mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: SDIO. Apogee: 116 km (72 mi).

1990 July 26 - . 05:51 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Technology mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: SDIO. Apogee: 2.00 km (1.20 mi).

1991 May 20 - . 07:30 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • SXT / XOGS X-ray astronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 300 km (180 mi).

1991 August 20 - . 09:45 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC20. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Target mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: SDIO. Apogee: 2.00 km (1.20 mi).

1991 October 14 - . 10:17 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC20. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • Target - . Nation: USA. Agency: SDIO. Apogee: 320 km (190 mi). LEAP-1. Missile Tracking and Discrimination for SDIO..

1992 February 18 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • Technology mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: SDIO. Apogee: 320 km (190 mi).

1992 June 19 - . 11:01 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • Technology test - . Nation: USA. Agency: SDIO. Apogee: 330 km (200 mi). LEAP-2. Missile Tracking and Discrimination for SDIO..

1992 October 22 - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries. FAILURE: Failure..
  • SPFE-3 / Orbus 1 Target - . Nation: USA. Agency: SDIO. Apogee: 20 km (12 mi). LEAP-3. Missile Tracking and Discrimination for SDIO..

1993 June 22 - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • Technology mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: BMDO, OSC. Apogee: 300 km (180 mi).

1993 August 28 - . 09:45 GMT - . Launch Site: White Sands. Launch Complex: White Sands LC36. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries. FAILURE: Failure.
  • SXT / XOGS X-ray astronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 8.00 km (4.90 mi).

1994 February 25 - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • LEAP FTV-TD - . Nation: USA. Agency: BMDO. Apogee: 300 km (180 mi).

1995 February 12 - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • Target mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: BMDO. Apogee: 300 km (180 mi).

1995 March 4 - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • LEAP FTV-3 Target Target mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: BMDO. Apogee: 300 km (180 mi).

1995 March 28 - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • LEAP FTV-4 Target Target mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: BMDO. Apogee: 300 km (180 mi). LEAP-4. Missile Tracking and Discrimination for SDIO..

1996 July 9 - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. LV Family: Minuteman. Launch Vehicle: Aries.
  • TBM tracking test target mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USAF SM. Apogee: 300 km (180 mi).

    The Airborne Interceptor Experiment) was designed to demonstrate the feasibility of intercepting enemy theater ballistic missiles during early-boost. The Aries Target Launch Vehicle was launched from Wallops Island, flying a boost trajectory similar to a real theater ballistic missile. The missile was detected and tracked by Air Force F-15s, Navy F-14s, an Air Force infrared sensor tracking platform and by fleet surface ships of the US Atlantic Command. The data collected was used to develop an air-launched anti-ballistic missile system.



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