Encyclopedia Astronautica
Dolphin



dolphin.jpg
Dolphin
Dolphin launch vehicle test
American sea-launched test vehicle. The Dolphin hybrid rocket (solid fuel and liquid oxygen oxidizer) was built by Starstruck (formerly ARC Technology), a predecessor to AMROC. The Dolphin included not only innovative propulsion technology but was also launched from a floating launch cannister at sea. One test article of the hybrid was successfully launched in the summer of 1984. But the project was backed entirely with private funds and when backing for further development was not forthcoming, the project folded.

The Dolphin featured a hybrid motor using liquid oxygen oxidizer. A sea launch arrangement was used for lift-off - the booster floated in the ocean separately from the launch support ship. The Dolphin was designed to be a commercial sounding rocket and a stepping-stone to a much larger booster for commercial orbital launches called the Constellation. Constellation was to have been a 4-stage vehicle that could deliver a payload of 1450 kg to a geosynchronous transfer orbit.

The hybrid rocket engine for the Dolphin was developed and tested under the leadership of Douglas Ordahl in Carson City, Nevada. Ordahl had previously been head of hybrid propulsion at United Technologies' Chemical System Division.

Water launch was selected to reduce cost by eliminating the need for a launch pad, increase payload to low inclination orbits by allowing the tender ship to deposit the rocket for launch near the equator, and to avoid strict government regulation of land-based launch sites. In order to launch the rocket, the Dolphin was first loaded with liquid oxygen, then moved off the boat and floated horizontally in the ocean. A counterweight, attached to the aft end of rocket, was then dropped into the water and this pulled the rocket vertical. The nitrogen tanks were pressurized in the water and the vehicle was ready for launch.

Failures: 1. Success Rate: 0.00%. First Fail Date: 1984-08-03. Last Fail Date: 1984-08-03. Launch data is: complete.

Status: Retired 1984.
Gross mass: 7,500 kg (16,500 lb).
Height: 15.50 m (50.80 ft).
Diameter: 1.07 m (3.51 ft).
Thrust: 155.00 kN (34,845 lbf).
Apogee: 2.00 km (1.20 mi).
First Launch: 1984.08.03.
Number: 1 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • eAc American manufacturer of rocket engines and rockets. eAc, USA. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • San Clemente Military facility on the California Channel Islands, used for rocket launches in support of other missile tests from Vandenberg or Point Mugu. In use from 1957. Known to have been used for 10 launches from 1958 to 1984, reaching up to 672 kilometers altitude. Later plans were made for an off-shore launch platform here for the Starstruck vehicle. More...

Associated Stages
  • Dolphin-1 Lox/Solid propellant rocket stage. Loaded mass 7,500 kg. Thrust 155.00 kN. More...

Dolphin Chronology


1984 February 6 - . Launch Site: San Clemente. Launch Complex: San Clemente E. Launch Vehicle: Dolphin. FAILURE: Nitrogen gas fittings had been loosened during transport. Attempts to grind an access hole to an internal bay of the rocket to tighten the fittings resulted in a fire in the electronics..
  • Dolphin hybrid rocket sea-launch abort. - . Nation: USA. Agency: Starstruck. Summary: The Dolphin included not only innovative hybrid propulsion technology but was also launched from a floating launch cannister at sea. This was the first attempted test of the sea-launch system, although the launch itself was aborted..

1984 March 30 - . Launch Site: San Clemente. Launch Complex: San Clemente E. Launch Vehicle: Dolphin. FAILURE: Seawater seeped into the electronics bay, creating a short..
  • Dolphin hybrid rocket sea-launch abort. - . Nation: USA. Agency: Starstruck. Summary: This was the second attempted use of the sea-launch system - the launch itself was aborted..

1984 August 3 - . Launch Site: San Clemente. Launch Complex: San Clemente E. Launch Vehicle: Dolphin. FAILURE: Thrust vector control failure led to vehicle swerving off course at T+14 seconds.. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: Starstruck. Apogee: 0 km ( mi). The vehicle was supposed to reach an altitude of 2400 m but only made it to 700 m due to a stuck thrust vector control valve that resulted in a 45 degree deviation from vertical fligh. The errant vehicle was shut down by command from the support ship at T+14 sec. After this attempt, the project, backed entirely with private funds, folded.

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