The Viking Rocket
The U.S. Navy's Viking rocket was conceived shortly after WWII as a replacement for the V-2 rocket. The Viking was designed specifically as a research rocket by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).

The first Viking was flown at White Sands in May 1949. Twelve Vikings were built, each differing from the one before. Ten of these rockets were fired at White Sands for upper air research. Viking #4 was fired at sea near Christmas Island in the Pacific from the USS Norton Sound. Viking #8 was never flight tested -- it broke free from its restraining bolts during a pre-flight static test of its rocket engine prior to its test flight.

Viking #11 was fired at White Sands on May 24, 1954 and soared to an altitude of 158 miles and attained a speed of 4,000 miles per hour.

In its final configuration, Viking was 45 feet long and 45 inches in diameter. The major structural material was aluminum. It was powered by a liquid propellant rocket engine producing 20,000 pounds of thrust using liquid oxygen and alcohol. Like the V-2, peroxide was decomposed to provide steam for operating its propellant turbo-pump. It was capable of carrying more than 1,000 pounds of instruments to an altitude of at least 150 miles.

Vikings #13 and #14 were integrated into the Vanguard earth satellite program in late 1955. The two rockets were fired at Patrick AFB as test rockets for the program.

Updated: 4-16-2008

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