Redstone (rocket)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Launch of a Redstone medium-range missile
Launch of Redstone Freedom 7
Juno-1 missile
Upper stages of the Juno-1 missile
Redstone Sparta missile

The Redstone (also known as the PGM-11A or SSM-A-14 in military terms ) was the first American ballistic missile . It was based on the technology of the German A4 - rocket and much German involving rocket scientist under was Walter Dornberger and Wernher von Braun developed.


The Redstone resulted from the Hermes program, which was initiated in late 1944. After the war, work on missiles in the United States was slow. It was not until 1950 with the Korean War that missile development was intensified in the USA. Increased demands were now placed on the rockets, such as a larger payload. The Hermes-C1 with a projected range of 800 km ultimately became the direct predecessor of the Redstone. From 1951 the actual development of the missile finally took place by the Army Ballistic Missile Agency at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville (Alabama) under the direction of Wernher von Braun. In April 1952, the rocket was renamed Redstone. Redstone was to be a surface-to-surface missile for the US Army . Its basic construction was completed in mid-1952.

The missile could carry a nuclear warhead of 3,000 kg and an explosive force of up to 3.75 Mt TNT equivalent over 322 km, making it a short-range missile .
With a smaller warhead of 500 KT, the missile could travel 800 km, making it a medium-range missile .

The tender to build the rocket was won in October 1952 by Chrysler , which immediately began producing the first test samples. On August 20, 1953, the rocket had its first test flight. Production of the series version began in 1955, and it started in July 1956 for the first time. In June 1958, the first Redstone unit was stationed in West Germany . By the last start on November 30, 1965, there had been 56 starts of the production version, 28 of them false starts . A total of about 120 missiles were built (35 of them for the test program). There were a total of 47 false starts during the tests. The reliability of the type was therefore quite poor.

Nevertheless, thanks to the tried and tested technology, a launch vehicle could be derived quickly after the Sputnik shock , with the help of which a number of space missions were started. These included the first US satellite Explorer 1 and the first manned suborbital space flights with Mercury spaceships .


In the Federal Republic of Germany there were four mobile launching ramps with the associated equipment and one rocket each for reloading. Redstones were also stationed in Italy and Turkey , and were withdrawn from Turkey after the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Atomic bomb tests

As part of Operation Hardtack in August 1958, the Redstone was tested with atomic warheads. On August 1st, Redstone # CC50 started the "Teak" atomic bomb test . The explosion occurred at a height of 77.8 km. "Orange", whose explosive device was launched from Redstone # CC51, exploded on August 12th at an altitude of 43 km. Both explosives had an explosive force of 3.75 megatons. It was the first US missile test for atomic bombs.


  • The Redstone variant for re-entry tests of ICBMs was called Jupiter-C . It consisted of the Redstone rocket and two solid upper stages. Three rockets were launched between 1956 and 1957.
  • The Redstone variant for the launch of the first US Earth satellite Explorer 1 was called Juno-1 or Jupiter-C . It consisted of a modified Redstone rocket with a tank that was 2.4 m longer and three solid upper stages each with a different number of Thiokol Baby Sergeant solid rockets, the second and third stages being nested in one another. The payload was only about 15 kg. After the launch of Explorer 1, other satellites were launched with this rocket, and there were also failures. In 1958 there were six rocket launches, three of which failed. The first launch took place on January 31, 1958, the last on October 22, 1958. At the last launch, the Juno 1 was equipped with an additional fifth stage. However, the launch with the Beacon 1 satellite failed.
  • The Redstone Mercury for the start of the Mercury space capsules had only one drive stage. The first launch took place on November 21, 1960, the last on July 21, 1961.
  • There was also the Redstone Sparta . It was used for some suborbital test flights in Woomera in 1966 and for the launch of Australia's first artificial earth satellite Wresat .

Technical specifications

Redstone Jupiter-C / Juno-1 Redstone Mercury
length 21.1 m 21.3 m 25.5 m
span 3.66 m 3.66 m 3.66 m
diameter 1.78 m 1.78 m 1.78 m
Takeoff mass 29.0 t 31.5 t ~ 30 t
stages 1 4th 1
1st stage
Engine North American Rocketdyne NAA75-100
(A-6) with thrusters
Rocketdyne A-7 Rocketdyne A-7
Start thrust 347 kN 369 kN 357 kN
fuel Ethanol and LOX Hydyne and LOX Ethanol and LOX
Burn time 135 s 155 p 155 p
Takeoff / empty mass 28.4 / 3.89 t 30.96 / 6.16 t 30.96 / 6.16 t
2nd stage
Engine 11 Thiokol Sergeant
thrust 73.4 kN
fuel AP / polysulfide
Takeoff / empty mass 327/90 kg
Burn time 6.5 s
length 1.3 m
diameter 0.86 m
3rd stage
Engine 3 Thiokol Sergeant
thrust 24.0 kN
fuel AP / polysulfide
Takeoff / empty mass 94/28 kg
Burn time 6.5 s
length 1.3 m
diameter 0.41 m
4th stage
Engine 1 Thiokol Sergeant
thrust 8.0 kN
fuel AP / polypropylene glycol
Takeoff / empty mass 27/5 kg
Burn time 6.5 s
length 1.3 m
diameter 0.15 m

See also

Web links

Commons : Redstone Rocket  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Bernd Leitenberger: The Redstone
  2. Eugen Reichl: The rocket type book . 1st edition. 2007, ISBN 978-3-613-02788-6 .
  3. ^ US Centennial of Flight Home Page - Upper Stages
  4. ^ Gunter's Space Page: Juno 1 , accessed February 26, 2010
  5. ^ JD Hunley: The History of Solid-Propellant Rocketry: What we do and do not know. (PDF; 753 kB) In: NASA . 1999, accessed on August 27, 2020 .
  6. Deployed Jupiter IRBM's. In: NASA Spaceflight. February 24, 2013, accessed on August 27, 2020 .