Encyclopedia Astronautica
Spartan



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Spartan
Credit: via Andreas Parsch
American anti-ballistic missile evolved from the Nike Zeus and designed to intercept ICBM warheads in space. Three stage vehicle consisting of 1 x TX-500 + 1 x TX-454 + 1 x TX-239 solid propellant motors. Nearly as large and just as costly as the missiles it was designed to intercept. After 20 years of development, deployment was limited by arms agreements, and 30 were only briefly in service in 1975-1976.

In September 1967, the unaffordable Nike-X program for comprehensive anti-ballistic missile protection of the United States was cancelled and replaced by the thinner and more affordable Sentinel system. This was in turn replaced by the even more affordable Safeguard in 1969, designed only to protect ICBM fields and Washington DC. At the time of Sentinel the evolved Nike Zeus missile was renamed Spartan. First launch was in March 1968, and Spartan achieved its first intercept of a Minuteman ICBM in August 1970. However 1972 arms limitation negotiations with the Soviet Union allowed each side only one ABM site with 100 missiles. Accordingly, on 1 October 1975, a single Safeguard ABM site with 30 Spartan and 70 Sprint missiles went on-line in North Dakota. It was ordered deactivated by the US Congress the next day, and closed six-months later, ending America's first thirty-year effort to obtain a ballistic missile defense system.

Spartan was an all-solid propellant, command guided missile nearly as large and costly as the ICBM's it was built to intercept (this was a major argument against it the adversary could always counter it by building more ICBM's at less expense than the multiple ABM's necessary to kill them). Spartan's specialized W71 thermonuclear warhead was tuned to use neutron flux to disable the nuclear warheads of incoming enemy missiles.

Failures: 7. Success Rate: 83.33%. First Fail Date: 1968-09-16. Last Fail Date: 1974-01-22. Launch data is: complete. Development Cost $: 322.000 million. Recurring Price $: 18.007 million in 1969 dollars. Flyaway Unit Cost $: 3.000 million in 1969 dollars. Standard warhead: 2,270 kg (5,000 lb). Maximum range: 740 km (450 mi). Number Standard Warheads: 1. Standard warhead: W71. Warhead yield: 5,000 KT. Boost Propulsion: Solid rocket. Initial Operational Capability: 1975. Total Number Built: 55. Total Development Built: 25. Total Production Built: 30.

Historical Essay © Andreas Parsch

Western Electric-McDonnell-Douglas LIM-49 Nike Zeus-SpartanOn 18 September 1967, the Nike-X was cancelled and replaced by a system called Sentinel, which was to be a much thinner (and therefore cheaper!) ABM defense shield. At the same time, Nike Zeus EX was renamed Spartan, and the prime contract was now shared between Western Electric and McDonnell-Douglas. The Spartan missile received the designation LIM-49A. The short-range, endo-atmospheric missile component of Sentinel was the Martin Orlando Sprint.

The LIM-49A Spartan was stored in and launched from underground silos, and the first Spartan launch occured in March 1968. In August 1970, an LGM-30 Minuteman RV was intercepted for the first time. In 1969, however, the Sentinel system had been cancelled, and replaced by Safeguard, an ABM system planned to defend only SAC's ICBM bases, and not the cities of the United States. The SALT I treaty of 1972, and a 1974 addendum, limited even this to one site with 100 ABMs. On 1 October 1975, the U.S.'s one and only Safeguard ABM site became operational with 30 Spartan and 70 Sprint missiles. However, because the very limited defense offered by a single ABM site did not warrant the costs, the site was deactivated by Congress the next day.

The designations of the various Nike Zeus, Nike-X and Spartan missiles are a bit confusing. Many sources say that the Nike Zeus A received the designation XLIM-49A in 1963, although development had stopped in 1960, and Nike Zeus B became XLIM-49B, although it had almost nothing in common with the XLIM-49A. However, the Department of Defense document [3], which is the "official" list of DOD aircraft and missile designators, describes the XLIM-49A as a three-stage intercept missile. Unfortunately, the name is given as Nike Zeus, without an A or B suffix, but "three-stage" clearly points to the Nike Zeus B. If this is true (and why shouldn't it), the designation LIM-49A for the Spartan would make a lot more sense, because Spartan was indeed a modified-improved Zeus B, but had nothing in common with the Nike Zeus A. Zeus A itself had received no designation in this case, which is quite logical, because it didn't exist anymore in 1963.

Further adding to the ABM designation confusion is that all my sources say the short-range Sprint did not receive any LIM-n designation, and the existence of the very little-known XLIM-99A and XLIM-100A designations, allocated by the U.S. Army in 1972. Whether one or both of the LIM-99-100 designators is related to the Spartan and-or Sprint missiles, I don't know.

Specifications

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

Data for Nike Zeus A-B and LIM-49A:

  Nike Zeus A Nike Zeus B (XLIM-49A) LIM-49A
Length 13.5 m (44 ft 3 in) 14.7 m (48 ft 4 in) 16.8 m (55 ft 2 in)
Span 2.98 m (117.6 in) 2.44 m (96 in) 2.98 m (117.6 in)
Diameter 0.91 m (36 in) 1.09 m (43.1 in)
Weight 4980 kg (11000 lb) 10300 kg (22800 lb) 13100 kg (29000 lb)
Speed > Mach 4
Ceiling ? 280 km (174 miles) 560 km (350 miles)
Range 320 km (200 miles) 400 km (250 miles) 740 km (460 miles)
Propulsion Two solid-fuel rocket stages
1st stage: Thiokol TX-135; 1800 kN (400000 lb)
2nd stage: ?
Three solid-fuel rocket stages
1st stage: Thiokol TX-135; 2000 kN (450000 lb)
2nd stage: Thiokol TX-238
3rd stage: Thiokol TX-239
Three solid-fuel rocket stages
1st stage: Thiokol TX-500; 2200 kN (500000 lb)
2nd stage: Thiokol TX-454
3rd stage: Thiokol TX-239
Warhead W-31 nuclear (20 kT) W-50 thermonuclear (400 kT) W-71 thermonuclear (5 MT)
Main Sources

[1] James N. Gibson: "Nuclear Weapons of the United States", Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 1996
[2] Bill Gunston: "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rockets and Missiles", Salamander Books Ltd, 1979
[3] DOD: "Model Designation of Military Aircraft, Rockets and Missiles", 7-1964, 1-1965, 7-1965


AKA: 3 stage vehicle consisting of 1 x TX-500 + 1 x TX-454 + 1 x TX-239; LIM-49A; Spartan.
Status: Retired 1975.
Gross mass: 12,995 kg (28,649 lb).
Payload: 2,270 kg (5,000 lb).
Height: 16.83 m (55.21 ft).
Diameter: 1.07 m (3.51 ft).
Span: 2.99 m (9.80 ft).
Thrust: 2,000.00 kN (449,600 lbf).
Apogee: 560 km (340 mi).
First Launch: 1968.03.30.
Last Launch: 1975.04.17.
Number: 42 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • missile Guided self-propelled military weapon (as opposed to rocket, an unguided self-propelled weapon). More...

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

Associated Launch Sites
  • Kwajalein The US military base located on this Pacific island group has major tracking facilities and is near the impact area for dummy warheads fired by ICBM's from Vandenberg AFB. It is a key test location for anti-ballistic missile systems. More...

Associated Stages

Spartan Chronology


1968 March 30 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800003.
  • KT-1 - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1968 May 22 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800004.
  • KT-2 - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1968 August 7 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800005.
  • KT-3 - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 50 km (31 mi).

1968 September 16 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800007. FAILURE: Failure.
  • KT-4 - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 2.00 km (1.20 mi).

1968 November 21 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800006. FAILURE: Failure.
  • KT-5 - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 2.00 km (1.20 mi).

1969 February 6 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800008.
  • KT-6 - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 50 km (31 mi).

1969 April 25 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800010.
  • KT-7 - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1969 May 18 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800009.
  • KT-8 - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 400 km (240 mi).

1969 June 4 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800011. FAILURE: Failure.
  • KT-9 - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 1.00 km (0.60 mi).

1969 July 16 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800013.
  • KT-10 test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1969 July 31 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800014.
  • KT-11 test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 50 km (31 mi).

1969 August 13 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800012. FAILURE: Failure.
  • KT-12 test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 0 km ( mi).

1969 October 17 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800016.
  • KT-13 test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 50 km (31 mi).

1969 November 25 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800015.
  • KT-14 test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 50 km (31 mi).

1969 December 15 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800017.
  • KT-15 test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1970 April 14 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800018. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Safeguard M1-1 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1970 June 24 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800019.
  • Safeguard M1-1A Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1970 August 28 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan.
  • Safeguard M1-4 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1970 October 3 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan.
  • Safeguard M1-27 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1971 January 11 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800021.
  • SAFEGUARD M1-30 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1971 January 11 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800024.
  • SAFEGUARD M1-30 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1971 April 21 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan.
  • Safeguard M1-7A Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1971 August 27 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800031.
  • Safeguard M2-1 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 123 km (76 mi).

1971 September 23 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800032. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Safeguard M1-14A Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 10 km (6 mi).

1971 December 8 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800027.
  • Safeguard M2-3 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 148 km (91 mi).

1972 January 20 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800030.
  • Safeguard M2-6 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 88 km (54 mi).

1972 March 30 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800033.
  • Safeguard M2-9 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 130 km (80 mi).

1972 June 9 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan.
  • Isolated Rail test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 1.00 km (0.60 mi).

1972 June 23 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800026.
  • Safeguard M2-19 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 70 km (43 mi).

1972 August 3 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800029.
  • Safeguard M2-34 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1972 October 26 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800037.
  • Safeguard M2-12 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1972 November 3 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800036.
  • Safeguard M2-40 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 50 km (31 mi).

1973 January 25 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800039.
  • Safeguard M2-26 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 150 km (90 mi).

1973 February 3 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800035.
  • Safeguard M2-43 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1973 June 22 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM PFT-01.
  • SAFEGUARD M2-45 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 347 km (215 mi).

1973 June 22 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM 800038.
  • SAFEGUARD M2-45 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 340 km (210 mi).

1974 January 22 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM PFT-02. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Safeguard M2-245 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 20 km (12 mi).

1974 July 18 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan.
  • Safeguard TRM-133 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1974 September 20 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM PFT-02A.
  • Safeguard M2-245A Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1974 November 1 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM PFT-3.
  • Safeguard M2-445 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1975 April 3 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM PFT-4.
  • Safeguard M2-345 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1975 April 17 - . Launch Site: Kwajalein. Launch Complex: Kwajalein Meck. Launch Vehicle: Spartan. LV Configuration: Spartan ABM PFT-5.
  • Safeguard M2-545 Interceptor mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: USA. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

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