Encyclopedia Astronautica
Wallops Island LA1


Little Joe, Iris, Astrobee, Aerobee, Little Joe 1 2C launch complex. Aerobee Launcher, Launch Area 1

Longitude: -75.4861 deg.
Latitude: 37.8352 deg.
First Launch: 1959.08.21.
Last Launch: 1972.09.26.
Number: 15 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Spacecraft
  • Mercury American manned spacecraft. 18 launches, 1960.01.21 (Mercury LJ-1B) to 1963.05.15 (Mercury MA-9). America's first man-in-space project. The capsule had to be as small as possible to match the orbital payload capability of America's first ICBM, the Atlas. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Aerobee 150 American sounding rocket. Two stage vehicle consisting of 1 x Aerobee Booster + 1 x Aerobee 150. More...
  • Aerobee 150A American sounding rocket. Two stage vehicle consisting of 1 x Aerobee Booster + 1 x Aerobee 150A More...
  • Iris American sounding rocket. Sounding rocket developed by Navy, then handed over to NASA. Flown only four times, but then used in unique Hydra-Iris test series. More...
  • Aerobee 170 American sounding rocket. Two stage sounding rocket consisting of a solid Nike booster paired with an Aerobee 150 liquid-propellant second stage. More...
  • Astrobee F American sounding rocket. Single stage solid-fueled dual-thrust rocket replacement for the Aerobee 150. More...

Associated Launch Sites
  • Wallops Island Small NASA launch site for sounding rocket launches and occasional Scout launches to orbit. Air launches are conducted from the Drop Zone Wallops Island, 37.00 N 72.0 W. With the last orbital launch in 1985 and the decline in sounding rocket launches, Wallops fell into near-disuse as a launch center. Its fortunes revised with the establishment of Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in 2005 and orbital launches resumed in 2010. More...

Wallops Island LA1 Chronology


1959 August 21 - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe 1 4P. LV Configuration: Little Joe 1-4P LJ-1. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Mercury LJ-1 - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 1.00 km (0.60 mi). During the countdown of the first programed Little Joe launching (LJ-1 beach abort test) at Wallops Island, the escape rocket fired prematurely 31 minutes before the scheduled launch. The spacecraft rose to an altitude of 2,000 feet and landed about 2,000 feet from the launch site. Premature firing was caused by a faulty escape circuit.

1959 October 4 - . 10:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe 1 4P. LV Configuration: Little Joe 1-4P LJ-6.
  • Spacecraft test - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 59 km (36 mi). Summary: NASA Little Joe launch vehicle carrying a boilerplate Mercury capsule with a dummy escape system successfully launched from Wallops Station, Va..

1959 November 4 - . 14:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe 1 2P. LV Configuration: Little Joe 1-2P LJ-1A.
  • Mercury LJ-1A - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 14 km (8 mi). Little Joe 1-A (LJ-1A) was launched in a test for a planned abort under high aerodynamic load conditions. This flight was a repeat of the Little Joe (LJ-1) that had been planned for August 21, 1959 (escape rocket fired 31 min before the intended launch of the Little Joe launch vehicle). After lift-off, the pressure sensing system was to supply a signal when the intended abort dynamic pressure was reached (about 30 sec after launch). An electrical impulse was then sent to the explosive bolts to separate the spacecraft from the launch vehicle. Up to this point, the operation went as planned, but the impulse was also designed to start the igniter in the escape motor. The igniter activated, but pressure failed to build up in the motor until a number of seconds had elapsed. Thus the abort maneuver, the prime mission of the flight, was accomplished at a dynamic pressure that was too low. For this reason a repeat of the test was planned. All other events from the launch through recovery occurred without incident. The flight attained an altitude of 9 statute miles, a range of 11.5 statute miles, and a speed of 2,021.6 miles per hour.

1959 December 4 - . 16:20 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe 1 4C. LV Configuration: Little Joe 1-4C LJ-2.
  • Spacecraft test - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 89 km (55 mi).

1960 January 21 - . 14:23 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe 1 2C. LV Configuration: Little Joe 1-2C LJ-1B.
  • Mercury LJ-1B - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Spacecraft: Mercury. Apogee: 14 km (8 mi). Little Joe 1-B (LJ-1B) was launched from Wallops Island with a rhesus monkey, 'Miss Sam,' aboard. Test objectives for this flight were the same as those for Little Joe 1 (LJ-1) in which the escape tower launched 31 minutes before the planned launch, and Little Joe 1-A (LJ-1A), wherein the dynamic buildup in the abort maneuver was too low. A physiological study of the primate, particularly in areas applying to the effects of the rapid onset of reverse acceleration during abort at maximum dynamic pressure, was also made. In addition, the Mercury helicopter recovery system was exercised. During the mission, all sequences operated as planned; the spacecraft attained a peak altitude of 9.3 statute miles, a range of 11.7 statute miles, and a maximum speed of 2,021.6 miles per hour. Thirty minutes from launch time, a Marine recovery helicopter deposited the spacecraft and its occupant at Wallops Station. 'Miss Sam' was in good condition, and all test objectives were successfully fulfilled.

1960 July 22 - . 12:05 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. LV Family: Iris. Launch Vehicle: Iris. LV Configuration: Iris NASA 5.01GT.
  • Aeronomy / test - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 224 km (139 mi). Summary: First flight of NASA's Iris sounding rocket successful..

1960 October 18 - . 14:17 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. LV Family: Iris. Launch Vehicle: Iris. LV Configuration: Iris NASA 5.02GT.
  • Aeronomy / test - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 225 km (139 mi). Summary: Second Iris rocket rose to 225 km with a payload of 56 kg from Wallops Station..

1960 November 8 - . 15:18 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe 1 2P. LV Configuration: Little Joe 1-2P LJ-5. FAILURE: At 15.4 seconds the escape rocket motor and tower jettison motor ignited prematurely..
  • Mercury LJ-5 - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Apogee: 16 km (9 mi). Little Joe 5 with a Mercury production spacecraft was launched from Wallops Island to test the spacecraft in an abort simulating the most severe launch conditions. At 15.4 seconds after liftoff, the escape rocket motor and tower jettison motor ignited prematurely. Booster, capsule, and tower remained mated through ballistic trajectory until destroyed on impact.

1961 January 19 - . 12:42 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. LV Family: Iris. Launch Vehicle: Iris. LV Configuration: Iris NASA 5.03GT. FAILURE: Failure.
  • Aeronomy / test - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 138 km (85 mi).

1961 March 18 - . 16:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. LV Family: Little Joe. Launch Vehicle: Little Joe 1 4C. LV Configuration: Little Joe 1-4C LJ-5A. FAILURE: Escape tower fired prematurely.
  • Mercury LJ-5A - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Mercury. Spacecraft: Mercury. Apogee: 12 km (7 mi). Mercury Little Joe 5A (LJ-5A), the sixth in the series of Little Joe missions, was launched from Wallops Island. This flight was intended to satisfy test objectives, which were not met previously because of the failure of the spacecraft to separate from the launch vehicle during the Little Joe 5 (LJ-5) mission flown on November 8, 1960. For reference, the purpose of this test was to demonstrate primarily the structural integrity of the spacecraft and the escape system during an escape maneuver initiated at the highest dynamic pressure anticipated during an Atlas launch for orbital flight. Little Joe 5A (LJ-5A) lifted off normally, but 19 seconds later the escape tower fired prematurely, a situation closely resembling the November 1960 flight. The signal to initiate the abort maneuver was given; and the launch vehicle-adapter clamp ring was released as intended, but the spacecraft remained on the launch vehicle since the escape motor was already expended. The separation was effected by using the retrorockets, but this command was transmitted before the flight had reached its apex, where separation had been planned. Therefore, the separation was rather violent. The parachutes did deploy at about 40,000 feet, and after recovery it was found that the spacecraft had actually incurred only superficial structural damage. In fact, this spacecraft was later used for the subsequent Little Joe 5B (LJ-5B) flight test. Test objectives of the Little Joe 5A (LJ-5A) were not met.

1962 May 3 - . 18:03 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. LV Family: Iris. Launch Vehicle: Iris. LV Configuration: Iris NASA 5.04GA.
  • Structure Aeronomy mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 113 km (70 mi).

1963 October 31 - . 16:50 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. LV Family: Aerobee. Launch Vehicle: Aerobee 150A. LV Configuration: Aerobee 150A NASA 04.94II.
  • Ionosphere mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 187 km (116 mi).

1970 March 7 - . 18:35 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. LV Family: Aerobee. Launch Vehicle: Aerobee 170. LV Configuration: Aerobee 170 NASA 13.03DS.
  • NRL NE4.238 Eclipse / solar ultraviolet mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA; NRL. Apogee: 165 km (102 mi).

1970 March 7 - . 18:36 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. LV Family: Aerobee. Launch Vehicle: Aerobee 150. LV Configuration: Aerobee 150 NASA 04.317US.
  • Far ultraviolet Eclipse Spectrum Eclipse / solar ultraviolet mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 142 km (88 mi).

1972 September 26 - . 18:13 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. Launch Pad: LA1?. LV Family: Astrobee. Launch Vehicle: Astrobee F. LV Configuration: Astrobee F NASA 12.20GT.
  • Test mission - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 199 km (123 mi).

2008 June 26 - . 19:57 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. LV Family: Black Brant. Launch Vehicle: Black Brant 11. LV Configuration: Black Brant XI NASA 39.08DR.
  • NGSP-1 - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Apogee: 300 km (180 mi).

2010 March 27 - . 14:09 GMT - . Launch Site: Wallops Island. Launch Complex: Wallops Island LA1. LV Family: Terrier. Launch Vehicle: Terrier Malemute.
  • NASA 12.067GT - . Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Greenbelt. Apogee: 270 km (160 mi). Summary: Test launch.

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