Encyclopedia Astronautica
Vanguard



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Vanguard
Credit: NASA
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Vanguard
Credit: © Mark Wade
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Vanguard explodes
The explosion of Vanguard in America's first launch attempt
Credit: NASA
American orbital launch vehicle. Vanguard was the 'civilian' vehicle developed by the US Navy to launch America's first satellite as part of the International Geophysical Year. The Army / von Braun Jupiter-C instead launched the first US satellite after Sputnik and Vanguard's public launch failure. The second stage design led to the Able upper stage for Thor/Atlas, and then to the Delta upper stage still in use in the 21st Century. The original version of Vanguard used a Grand Central final stage.

LEO Payload: 9.00 kg (19.80 lb) to a 200 km orbit. Failures: 8. Success Rate: 33.33%. First Fail Date: 1957-12-06. Last Fail Date: 1959-06-22. Launch data is: complete in 1985 dollars. Flyaway Unit Cost $: 5.660 million.

Stage Data - Vanguard

  • Stage 1. 1 x Vanguard. Gross Mass: 7,661 kg (16,889 lb). Empty Mass: 811 kg (1,787 lb). Thrust (vac): 134.792 kN (30,302 lbf). Isp: 270 sec. Burn time: 145 sec. Isp(sl): 248 sec. Diameter: 1.14 m (3.74 ft). Span: 1.14 m (3.74 ft). Length: 12.20 m (40.00 ft). Propellants: Lox/Kerosene. No Engines: 1. Engine: X-405. Status: Out of Production.
  • Stage 2. 1 x Delta A. Gross Mass: 2,164 kg (4,770 lb). Empty Mass: 694 kg (1,530 lb). Thrust (vac): 33.803 kN (7,599 lbf). Isp: 271 sec. Burn time: 115 sec. Isp(sl): 0.0000 sec. Diameter: 0.84 m (2.75 ft). Span: 0.84 m (2.75 ft). Length: 5.36 m (17.58 ft). Propellants: Nitric acid/UDMH. No Engines: 1. Engine: AJ10-118. Status: Out of Production.
  • Stage 3. 1 x Vanguard 3. Gross Mass: 210 kg (460 lb). Empty Mass: 31 kg (68 lb). Thrust (vac): 11.562 kN (2,599 lbf). Isp: 230 sec. Burn time: 31 sec. Isp(sl): 210 sec. Diameter: 0.50 m (1.64 ft). Span: 0.50 m (1.64 ft). Length: 2.00 m (6.50 ft). Propellants: Solid. No Engines: 1. Engine: GCRC. Status: Out of Production.

Status: Retired 1959.
Gross mass: 10,050 kg (22,150 lb).
Payload: 9.00 kg (19.80 lb).
Height: 23.00 m (75.00 ft).
Diameter: 1.14 m (3.74 ft).
Thrust: 123.90 kN (27,854 lbf).
Apogee: 200 km (120 mi).
First Launch: 1957.10.23.
Last Launch: 1959.09.18.
Number: 12 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • Vanguard 1 American technology satellite. 4 launches, 1957.12.06 (Vanguard 1A) to 1958.04.29 (Vanguard 2A). An engineering test satellite. Based on orbital position data derived from its transmissions, the shape of the earth was refined. More...
  • Vanguard 2 American earth magnetosphere satellite. 4 launches, 1958.05.28 (Vanguard 2B) to 1959.02.17 (Vanguard 2). The actual operational satellite that was to be launched by the Vanguard launcher. More...
  • Vanguard 3 American earth magnetosphere satellite. 4 launches, 1959.04.14 (30-inch Sphere) to 1959.09.18 (Vanguard 3). Radiation, micrometeoroid data. More...

Associated Engines
  • AJ10-118 Aerojet Nitric acid/UDMH rocket engine. 33.8 kN. Out of Production. Isp=271s. Engine originally developed for the Vanguard launch vehicle, and then for use on the Able and Delta upper stages and as the Apollo Service module engine. Flown 1957-1962. More...
  • GCRC GCR solid rocket engine. 11.6 kN. Isp=230s. Used on Vanguard launch vehicle. First flight 1957. More...
  • X-405 GE Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 134.8 kN. Vanguard 1st stage. Isp=270s. First flight 1957. More...

See also
  • Vanguard Vanguard was the 'civilian' vehicle developed by the US Navy to launch America's first satellite as part of the International Geophysical Year. The Army / von Braun Jupiter-C instead launched the first US satellite after Sputnik and Vanguard's public launch failure. The second stage design led to the Able upper stage for Thor/Atlas, and then to the Delta upper stage still in use in the 21st Century. The original version of Vanguard used a Grand Central final stage. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NRL American manufacturer of rockets and spacecraft. Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • Vanguard Relatively unsuccessful program to launch the United States first artifical satellite of the earth. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Emme, Eugene M, Aeronautics and Astronautics: An American Chronology of Science and Technology in the Exploration of Space 1915-1960, NASA, 1961. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Emme, Eugene M, Aeronautical and Astronautical Events of 1961 Report of NASA to the Committee on Science and Astronautics US House of Representatives 87th Cong 2d Sess, NASA, 1962. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Koelle, Heinz Hermann,, Handbook of Astronautical Engineering, McGraw-Hill,New York, 1961.
  • Ordway, Frank, and Sharpe, Mitchell, The Rocket Team, Collector's Guide Publishing, Ontario, Canada, 2000.
  • Bramscher, Robert G, "A Survey of Launch Vehicle Failures", Spaceflight, 1980, Volume 22, page 351.
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Launch Log, October 1998. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Grimwood, James M., Project Mercury: A Chronology, NASA Special Publication-4001.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC18A Viking, Vanguard, Scout launch complex. The LC18 complex included two launch pads 18A and 18B. Pad 18A was used to launch 14 Vanguard space vehicles for NASA and the U.S. Navy between 8 December 1956 and 19 September 1959. Following termination of the Vanguard program, Pad 18A supported ten Blue Scout Junior launches for the Air Force between 21 September 1960 and 10 June 1965. Complex 18 was deactivated on 1 February 1967. More...

Associated Stages
  • Able Nitric acid/UDMH propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 1,884/429 kg. Thrust 34.69 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 270 seconds. Engine for Vanguard was AJ10-37; for later Able models AJ10-41 and AJ10-42. Total of 21 stages built and delivered by Aerojet. More...
  • Vanguard Lox/Kerosene propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 7,661/811 kg. Thrust 134.79 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 270 seconds. More...
  • Vanguard 3 Solid propellant rocket stage. Loaded/empty mass 210/31 kg. Thrust 11.56 kN. Vacuum specific impulse 230 seconds. More...

Vanguard Chronology


1955 March 19 - . LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard.
  • Plan for a United States satellite in the International Geophysical Year - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Eisenhower. Spacecraft: Vanguard 2. Summary: Dr. Alan T. Waterman of the National Science Foundation presented President Dwight Eisenhower with a plan to implement the United States' portion of the International Geophysical Year satellite experiment..

1955 July 29 - . LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard.
  • Eisenhower approves earth satellites for IGY - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Eisenhower. Spacecraft: Vanguard 2. Summary: President Eisenhower endorsed the IGY proposal for the launching of small earth-circling satellites..

1955 August 1 - . LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard.
  • Vanguard selected to launch first US satellite. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: von Braun. Program: Vanguard. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: Vanguard 1. Summary: Ad Hoc Committee on Special Capabilities rejects Army/Von Brauns's Project Orbiter (Redstone) and USAF Atlas proposals; selects Navy/Vanguard for first US satellite..

1955 September 9 - . LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard.
  • Project Vanguard began operations. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Vanguard 2. The Department of Defense's Stewart Committee reviewed the alternatives for an IGY satellite program: wait for the development of an Atlas launcher, use a modified Redstone, or develop a rocket derived from the Viking missile. The committee voted seven to two in favor of abandoning Project Orbiter (Redstone) and developing Vanguard (Viking derivative with and Aerobee-Hi upper stage). Secretary Donald Quarles ruled with the committee majority in the Department of Defense Policy Committee, which approved the decision. The Department of Defense wrote a letter to the Department of Navy authorizing the Navy Research Laboratory to proceed with the Vanguard proposal. The responsibility for carrying out the program was placed with the Office of Naval Research. Objectives of Project Vanguard were: to develop and procure a satellite-launching vehicle; to place at least one satellite in orbit around the earth during IGY; to accomplish one scientific experiment; and to track flight to demonstrate the satellite actually attained orbit.

1955 October 7 - . LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard.
  • Vanguard contract awarded. - . Nation: USA. Program: Vanguard. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: Vanguard 1. Summary: Prime contract for Project Vanguard awarded the Martin Co..

1957 April 11 - . LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard.
  • Vanguard payload tested on sounding rocket. - . Nation: USA. Program: Vanguard. U.S.-IGY scientific satellite equipment, including a radio transmitter and instruments for measuring temperature, pressure, cosmic rays, and meteoric dust encounters, was tested above earth for the first time, as a rocket containing this equipment was fired by the Navy to a 126-mile altitude.

1957 May 1 - . LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard.
  • Vanguard suborbital test. - . Nation: USA. Program: Vanguard. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: Vanguard 1. Summary: Vanguard Test Vehicle (TV-1), a modified Martin Viking first-stage and Vanguard solid-propellant third-stage Grand Central Rocket as second-stage, launched with instrumented nose cone to an altitude of 121 miles and met all test objectives..

1957 October 1 - . LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard.
  • Vanguard tracking system operational. - . Nation: USA. Program: Vanguard. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: Vanguard 1. Summary: Project Vanguard world-wide tracking system (minitrack) became operational..

1957 October 9 - . LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard.
  • Vanguard supported by Eisenhower. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Eisenhower. Program: Vanguard. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: Vanguard 1. President Eisenhower in a White House press release congratulated the Soviet scientists on SPUTNIK I. He gave a brief history of the development of the U.S.-IGY satellite program and pointed to the separation of Project Vanguard from work on ballistic missiles.

1957 October 23 - . 19:22 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC18A. Launch Pad: LC18A. LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard. LV Configuration: Vanguard TV-2.
  • Vanguard TV2 test - . Nation: USA. Agency: USN. Apogee: 175 km (108 mi). Summary: IGY Vanguard prototype (TV-2) with simulated second and third stage successfully met test objectives, by reaching 109-mile altitude and 4,250 mph..

1957 December 6 - . 16:44 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC18A. Launch Pad: LC18A. LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard. LV Configuration: Vanguard TV-3. FAILURE: Vehicle lost thrust and exploded after 2 seconds.. Failed Stage: 1.
  • Vanguard 1A - . Payload: Vanguard Test Satellite. Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USN. Program: Vanguard. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: Vanguard 1. Decay Date: 1957-12-06 . COSPAR: F571206A. Summary: First US orbital attempt. IGY Vanguard (TV-3), the first with three live stages, failed to launch a test satellite..

1958 February 5 - . 07:33 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC18A. Launch Pad: LC18A. LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard. LV Configuration: Vanguard TV-3BU. FAILURE: Control system malfunction - control lost after 57 sec.. Failed Stage: G.
  • Vanguard 1B - . Payload: Vanguard Test Satellite. Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USN. Program: Vanguard. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: Vanguard 1. Decay Date: 1958-02-05 . COSPAR: F580205A. Apogee: 6.00 km (3.70 mi). Summary: Trial firing of IGY Vanguard (TV-3Bu) satellite..

1958 March 17 - . 12:15 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC18A. Launch Pad: LC18A. LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard. LV Configuration: Vanguard TV-4.
  • Vanguard 1 - . Payload: Vanguard 1C / Vanguard Test Satellite. Mass: 2.00 kg (4.40 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USN. Program: Vanguard. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: Vanguard 1. USAF Sat Cat: 5 . COSPAR: 1958-Beta-2. Apogee: 3,868 km (2,403 mi). Perigee: 654 km (406 mi). Inclination: 34.2000 deg. Period: 133.20 min. Summary: Transmitted pear-shaped earth data. Life expectancy of perhaps a 1,000 years. The satellite had a mass of 1.6 kg and a diameter of 175 cm..

1958 April 29 - . 02:53 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC18A. Launch Pad: LC18A. LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard. LV Configuration: Vanguard TV-5. FAILURE: Third Stage failed to ignite.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Vanguard 2A - . Payload: X-ray-environmental satellite. Mass: 1.00 kg (2.20 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USN. Program: Vanguard. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: Vanguard 1. Decay Date: 1958-04-28 . COSPAR: F580429A. Apogee: 550 km (340 mi).

1958 May 28 - . 03:46 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC18A. Launch Pad: LC18A. LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard. LV Configuration: Vanguard SLV-1. FAILURE: Improper third stage trajectory - unknown cause.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Vanguard 2B - . Payload: Lyman Alpha satellite. Mass: 10 kg (22 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USN. Program: Vanguard. Class: Earth. Type: Magnetosphere satellite. Spacecraft: Vanguard 2. Decay Date: 1958-05-27 . COSPAR: F580528A. Apogee: 3,500 km (2,100 mi).

1958 June 26 - . 05:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC18A. Launch Pad: LC18A. LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard. LV Configuration: Vanguard SLV-2. FAILURE: Premature second stage cutoff. Unknown cause.. Failed Stage: 2.
  • Vanguard 2C - . Payload: Lyman Alpha satellite. Mass: 10 kg (22 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USN. Program: Vanguard. Class: Earth. Type: Magnetosphere satellite. Spacecraft: Vanguard 2. Decay Date: 1958-06-26 . COSPAR: F580626A. Apogee: 165 km (102 mi).

1958 September 26 - . 15:38 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC18A. Launch Pad: LC18A. LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard. LV Configuration: Vanguard SLV-3. FAILURE: Insufficient 2nd stage thrust - unknown cause.. Failed Stage: 2.
  • Vanguard 2D - . Payload: Cloud cover satellite. Mass: 10 kg (22 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USN. Program: Vanguard. Class: Earth. Type: Magnetosphere satellite. Spacecraft: Vanguard 2. Decay Date: 1958-09-26 . COSPAR: F580926A. Apogee: 426 km (264 mi).

1959 February 17 - . 15:55 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC18A. Launch Pad: LC18A. LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard. LV Configuration: Vanguard SLV-4.
  • Vanguard 2 - . Payload: Vanguard 2E / Cloud cover satellite. Mass: 10 kg (22 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Vanguard. Class: Earth. Type: Magnetosphere satellite. Spacecraft: Vanguard 2. USAF Sat Cat: 11 . COSPAR: 1959-Alpha-1. Apogee: 3,049 km (1,894 mi). Perigee: 557 km (346 mi). Inclination: 32.9000 deg. Period: 122.80 min. Summary: Operated for 18 days; satellite wobble degraded data..

1959 April 14 - . 02:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC18A. Launch Pad: LC18A. LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard. LV Configuration: Vanguard SLV-5. FAILURE: Stage 2 damaged at separation.. Failed Stage: 2.
  • Vanguard 3A - . Payload: Magnetometer satellite. Mass: 10 kg (22 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Vanguard. Class: Earth. Type: Magnetosphere satellite. Spacecraft: Vanguard 3. Decay Date: 1959-04-13 . COSPAR: F590414A. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).
  • 30-inch Sphere - . Payload: Air density satellite. Nation: USA. Agency: USN. Program: Vanguard. Spacecraft: Vanguard 3. COSPAR: F590414B. Apogee: 100 km (60 mi).

1959 June 22 - . 20:16 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC18A. Launch Pad: LC18A. LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard. LV Configuration: Vanguard SLV-6. FAILURE: Stage 2 propulsion malfunction.. Failed Stage: 2.
  • Vanguard 3B - . Payload: Radiation Balance satellite. Mass: 10 kg (22 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Vanguard. Class: Earth. Type: Magnetosphere satellite. Spacecraft: Vanguard 3. Decay Date: 1959-06-22 . COSPAR: F590622A. Apogee: 140 km (80 mi).

1959 September 18 - . 05:20 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC18A. Launch Pad: LC18A. LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard. LV Configuration: Vanguard X-248 SLV-7.
  • Vanguard 3 - . Payload: Vanguard 3C / Magne-Ray satellite. Mass: 23 kg (50 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: USN. Program: Vanguard. Class: Earth. Type: Magnetosphere satellite. Spacecraft: Vanguard 3. USAF Sat Cat: 20 . COSPAR: 1959-Eta-1. Apogee: 3,413 km (2,120 mi). Perigee: 512 km (318 mi). Inclination: 33.4000 deg. Period: 126.40 min. Summary: Radiation, micrometeoroid data. Third stage failed to separate from payload. The TV-4BU burned-out third stage was left attached to the payload since the fiberglas case did not adversely affect the experiments..

1960 March 17 - . LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard.
  • Vanguard second anniversary. - . Nation: USA. Program: Vanguard. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: Vanguard 1. Summary: VANGUARD I still in orbit and transmitting on its second anniversary after traveling 131,318,211 miles. NASA reported that VANGUARD I orbit was being altered by solar pressure..

1961 March 17 - . LV Family: Vanguard. Launch Vehicle: Vanguard.
  • Vanguard third anniversary. - . Nation: USA. Program: Vanguard. Class: Technology. Type: Navigation technology satellite. Spacecraft: Vanguard 1. Vanguard I completed third year in orbit and was still transmitting. Vanguard I provided much useful data on orbits, including the slight pear-shape of the Earth and the effect of solar pressure. Vanguard also provided the second stage for the Able, Delta, and Able-Star, as well as the third stage of Scout, pioneering solid-propellant stages used in Polaris and Minuteman.

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