Author Topic: Scout Variants  (Read 1677 times)

Offline edkyle99

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Scout Variants
« on: 02/18/2019 04:10 am »
We've been working on a Scout photo thread in L2 recently, here.  https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=47251.msg1903711#msg1903711  I thought I would augment it here with some drawings and discussion.

Scout began as a NACA (later NASA) Langley program, inaugurated during 1958.  Langley's Pilotless Aircraft Research Division (PARD) selected Aerojet's new, then-world's-largest "Jupiter Senior" solid rocket motor for the first stage.  Jupiter Senior had been test fired during 1957 as part of the joint Army-Navy fleet ballistic missile effort.  The motor would be renamed Algol.  PARD chose an improved 31 inch diameter Thiokol Sergeant solid rocket motor for the second stage.  It would be named Castor.  ABL X248 motors, 18 inches diameter, from the Vanguard program, eventally named Altair, were selected for the third and fourth stages, but when NASA took over in October 1958 it funded development of a new, bigger ABL third stage motor, designated X254 and named "Antares", to improve performance. 

Scout stood 71 feet tall and weighed 36,600 or so pounds at launch.  Chance Vought Aircraft Company - a builder of U.S. Navy aircraft - won the contract to assemble Scout in April 1959.  By then, Scout was a joint NASA/USAF program designed to provide both sounding rocket and orbital variants.  The "poor man's rocket" was initially designed to put 150 pound payloads into LEO.   The initial R&D Scouts were "X1" vehicles that flew during 1960-62.  Most failed, but one orbited Explorer 9 while others performed suborbital missions.

Scout was "low-tech", using mid-50s solid motor techniques.  Its solid motors all had fixed nozzles.  Steering was via. thrust vanes and fin tips for the first stage and hydrogen peroxide monopropellant thrusters in the upper stages.  The fourth stage was spin-stabilized.  Guidance was strap-down inertial, and at first it only "guided" on the pitch axis, everything else was by autopilot.  It would take a while, but Scout would eventually become a reliable, low-cost option to reach orbit.  Its payloads over the years would include the first Wallops-launched satellite, the first European-built satellite, early satellites for the UK, Italy, France, and Germany, the first operational navigation satellite constellation, the first successful ion thruster experiment in space, etc.  Scout would fly not only from the U.S., but also from Italy's San Marco equatorial platform.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 02/25/2019 05:28 pm by edkyle99 »

Offline jkumpire

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Re: Scout Variants
« Reply #1 on: 02/18/2019 12:18 pm »
Ed,

Is that a launch configuration, or are they lifting the booster to the gantry?

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Scout Variants
« Reply #2 on: 02/18/2019 01:15 pm »
Ed,

Is that a launch configuration, or are they lifting the booster to the gantry?
It is set up to launch.  Scout was mounted so that it essentially "hung" from the side of the launcher (except for the Cape Canaveral Blue Scouts, which stood on a launch stand).  The launcher attached to the top and bottom of the first stage.  Some of the early Scouts flew "ballistic" trajectories which is why, I think, we see images like this of a Scout aimed a bit off vertical.  The launcher also rotated to aim them in azimuth.  This is the first launcher, at Wallops Launch Area 3.  The limitations of those cramped work platforms and tiny elevator were soon obvious.  An updated "Mark 2" launcher, which featured horizontal processing in a rollback hanger with Scout being rotated vertical shortly before launch, soon replaced it at nearby Launch Area 3A.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 02/18/2019 05:19 pm by edkyle99 »

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Scout Variants
« Reply #3 on: 02/18/2019 06:03 pm »
As for Scout's diminutive size, consider today's Electron, an even smaller rocket that can likely lift comparable payloads.  Soon, Electron will come to Wallops.  Is Electron the new Scout?

 - Ed Kyle

Offline WallE

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Re: Scout Variants
« Reply #4 on: 02/18/2019 11:43 pm »
Scout made a brief appearance as part of Project Mercury for an intended launch of a 147 pound communications satellite for evaulation of the Mercury Tracking Network. The launch was planned for July 1961, but endless difficulties with the satellite and booster occurred. Mercury-Atlas 4's flight on September 13 largely performed the job of testing the MTN and made Mercury-Scout borderline redundant.

After the Scout 4th stage had to be replaced with a backup unit, the vehicle was reassembled on LC-18B, formerly the Vanguard pad at the Cape, on October 22. On Halloween, the launch crew gathered in the blockhouse to finally attempt what was supposed to have taken place three months earlier. When the button on the control console was pressed to ignite the Scout's first stage Algol solid motor however, absolutely nothing happened.

Technicians checked out the first stage and repaired the ignition circuit. The next morning, everyone gathered in the LC-18B blockhouse for another attempt. This time, the Scout fired up properly and lifted from the pad. Almost as soon as it cleared the tower however, the booster began pitching uncontrollably. At T+28 seconds, the Scout began to disintegrate and at T+43 seconds, with allowable safety margins exceeded, the Range Safety Officer sent the destruct command. Months of frustration ended in a fireworks display over the Cape.

Examination of recovered debris found that the control loss was caused by a simple mistake when a technician accidentally transposed two wires in the flight control system, causing pitch signals to be transmitted to yaw and vice versa.

Preparing a backup Scout and satellite proved to be an unfeasible idea as the only available 4th stage had been lost in the launch mishap and the first stage of the backup vehicle required extensive repairs before it could be flown. With Mercury-Atlas 5 scheduled to launch in three weeks, it was decided instead to drop the idea and that the upcoming launch was sufficient to test the MTN.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Scout Variants
« Reply #5 on: 02/20/2019 08:38 pm »
Blue Scout was the U.S. Air Force version of Scout.  The Air Force used Ford Aeronutronics as its prime contractor rather than NASA's Vought Aircraft.  Blue Scout was launched from Cape Canaveral LC 18B.  It had a different tail section than NASA's Scout that allowed it to stand on its launch pad and it had a wider payload "heat shield", but otherwise the Blue Scouts were similar to the Scout X1 R&D vehicles.  Blue Scout 1 used three stages, Blue Scout 2 used four.  Six Blue Scouts flew during 1961-62, half successfully.  The first several carried Program 609A Hyper Environmental Test System (HETS) Plasma mission payloads on suborbital trajectories.  The Air Force Special Weapons Center, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, and Sandia Corporation managed the experiments, which were designed to measure ionizing radiation in space in support of research into high altitude nuclear explosion effects.  Mercury Scout, on Blue Scout 2 D8, was the only orbital attempt.

The Air Force had big plans for Scout, which included ASSET, DSAP, reentry tests, and general Dyna Soar testing, among other programs.  There were going to be launches every two weeks or so.  Blue Scout was to move to VAFB/Point Arguello after its initial R&D phase, but the Air Force was forced to unhappily combine efforts with NASA.  Ford Aeronutronics was dropped in favor of NASA Langley/Vought for the Point Arguello USAF missions.  The result would be a fiasco with numerous failures, leading the Air Force by the end of 1963 to cancel its Scout orders in favor of Thor.  The trade press continued to call these West Coast launches "Blue Scout", but they were really Vought Scouts.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 02/25/2019 05:29 pm by edkyle99 »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Scout Variants
« Reply #6 on: 02/21/2019 11:30 am »
I have a file labeled Blue Scout Jr. with a bunch of photos in it. These are smaller files, but I might have them at much higher-res. A number of years ago I collected a bunch of excellent Scout photos. I'd just need to find them.

Update: Okay, I found my BSJ photos in higher-res. I think I also have a ton of photos of Scout at Wallops, all black and white. NASA HQ has a great file on that. At least several dozen high-quality prints from the 1960s.
« Last Edit: 02/21/2019 11:33 am by Blackstar »

Offline Proponent

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Re: Scout Variants
« Reply #7 on: 02/21/2019 12:54 pm »
Attached is a user's guide for an early version of Scout.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Scout Variants
« Reply #8 on: 02/22/2019 12:07 am »
Attached is a user's guide for an early version of Scout.
This guide was for SLV-1B, which was Blue Scout Junior.  Blue Scout Junior had a Castor first stage motor.  Castor was the second stage for Scout (SLV-1) and Blue Scout.   

 - Ed Kyle

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Scout Variants
« Reply #9 on: 02/23/2019 04:37 am »
I have a file labeled Blue Scout Jr. with a bunch of photos in it. These are smaller files, but I might have them at much higher-res. A number of years ago I collected a bunch of excellent Scout photos. I'd just need to find them.

Update: Okay, I found my BSJ photos in higher-res. I think I also have a ton of photos of Scout at Wallops, all black and white. NASA HQ has a great file on that. At least several dozen high-quality prints from the 1960s.
Interesting photo.  The lettering on this Blue Scout says "UE SCOUT SR".  I presume this means "Scout Senior" with a "UE" preceding.  "UE" baffles.  Of course it reminds of the U.S. Army serial number code for Jupiter C, but "29" doesn't make sense for Blue Scout.  My guess is that this is one of two radiation probes that had a reentry capsule, which may be the white thingy on top.  The heat shield is not installed in this image.

In addition to most Blue Scouts, we are missing good DSAP-1 Scout images, among others, in case you have any.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 02/23/2019 04:45 am by edkyle99 »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Scout Variants
« Reply #10 on: 02/23/2019 12:27 pm »

In addition to most Blue Scouts, we are missing good DSAP-1 Scout images, among others, in case you have any.


What's DSAP-1 Scout? Is that the payload or a Scout variant?

At one point I was tracking down info on Blue Scout and Blue Scout Junior for an article, but I've forgotten all of that stuff. I don't remember the differences.

Offline gwiz

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Re: Scout Variants
« Reply #11 on: 02/23/2019 01:01 pm »
What's DSAP-1 Scout? Is that the payload or a Scout variant?
Defense Systems Application Program or Program 417, now DMSP.

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Scout Variants
« Reply #12 on: 02/23/2019 02:19 pm »
What's DSAP-1 Scout? Is that the payload or a Scout variant?
Defense Systems Application Program or Program 417, now DMSP.
Yes.  They were among the first Scouts launched from Point Arguello, beginning in 1962.  There were five launches altogether (May 24, 1962, August 23, 1962, February 19, 1963, April 26, 1963, and September 27, 1963).  Only two of the launches were successful, and one of those was off-target a bit.  Program 417 shut down its Scout orders after that. 

The Navy Transit launches came next, beginning in late 1962.  Photos of those are also rarer than photos of the Wallops Scouts.

Rarest of all may be images of the first West Coast Scout, which attempted to orbit Poppy 2 (Solrad 4B) on April 26, 1962.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 02/23/2019 02:21 pm by edkyle99 »

Online JoeFromRIUSA

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Re: Scout Variants
« Reply #13 on: 02/23/2019 02:51 pm »
Attached is a user's guide for an early version of Scout.
This guide was for SLV-1B, which was Blue Scout Junior.  Blue Scout Junior had a Castor first stage motor.  Castor was the second stage for Scout (SLV-1) and Blue Scout.   

 - Ed Kyle

Thank you for uploading this, Proponent. I'm waiting for the Scout "baseball cards to appear, Ed. By the way, when's the definitive book on U.S. legacy launch vehicles coming out Ed?

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Scout Variants
« Reply #14 on: 02/25/2019 07:00 pm »
After the R&D phase ended in 1962, NASA and Vought gradually improved Scout by sequentially upgrading its motors.  The upgrades involved improved propellants and lighter motor cases and nozzles.  The first three stages retained their outer mold line dimensions.  Scout X2 got an improved Antares 2A third stage motor.  A higher performance first stage Algol 2A motor debuted with Scout X3.  Upgraded Altair 2A fourth stage motors appeared on Scout X4.  Finally, in 1965, the Castor 1A second stage motor was replaced by Castor 2A, creating the standardized Scout A and B variants.  The "A" model used the last Altair 2A fourth stage motors while the "B" got the higher-performance Altair 3 (FW-4S).  Scout A/B was typically topped by a 34 inch diameter bulbous heat shield.  Scout A/B flew 42 times ("B" logged 30 of those) between 1965 and 1976, making it the most oft-flown Scout.  Payloads included the Transit-Oscar navsat constellation, Ariel 3 and 4, ESRO 2B, 1A, and 1B, San Marcos 2 and 3, and numerous NASA Explorers.  Scout B launched from Wallops, Vandenberg, and Italy's San Marco platform off the Kenyan coast.           

When I think of a Scout, this is the one I picture.  The most famous Scout launch image shows Scout 131R, a Scout B.  As near as I can determine, no examples of this most-common Scout type exist on display in the United States (the Smithsonian has a Scout D with a fatter first stage).  A Scout B or similar appears to be on display in the London Science Museum.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 02/26/2019 04:40 pm by edkyle99 »

Offline skater

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Re: Scout Variants
« Reply #15 on: 03/16/2019 07:02 pm »
Here is a fairly detailed technical video, produced by NASA in 1976, about the scout.



EDIT: The historical documentary was taken down due to copyright violation complaints. Sorry. If you search, "Scout Launch Vehicle Unsung Hero" at Youtube, you might be able to find a reposting, or the copyright owner may have posted it.

« Last Edit: 03/20/2019 08:06 pm by skater »

Offline edkyle99

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Re: Scout Variants
« Reply #16 on: 03/17/2019 04:01 pm »
Scout D introduced a more powerful first stage motor, the Algol 3A.  This was a fatter motor, 45 inches rather than 40 inches diameter, carrying 31% more propellant than Algol 2B.  It was developed by UTC (replacing Aerojet as first stage motor contractor).  Thrust and specific impulse were slightly higher, but it was the burn time that substantially increased.  Scout D flew 15 times during the 1970s from Wallops, VAFB, and San Marco.  It orbited Explorers, Navy navigation satellites, San Marco 4 for Italy, and Miranda and Ariel 6 for the UK among others.  Stage lengths were still the same, but longer and fatter heat shields could be used.  Scout 189C suffered the only failure that left ANS in a low orbit that decayed after only three months.  This failure was caused by a first stage pitch timer failure, which caused the vehicle to fly an over-lofted trajectory.

 - Ed Kyle   
« Last Edit: 03/17/2019 04:13 pm by edkyle99 »

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