Air Force Space and Missile Museum
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Arcas Launcher

Arcas Launcher

Display location: Museum rocket garden

Type: Arcas weather rocket launcher
Designation: LAU-66-A
Agency: U.S. Air Force, NASA
Contractor: Atlantic Research Corporation

The Arcas weather rocket system was used to obtain high altitude weather information. Since the rocket had no guidance system, it had to be aimed at the time of launch, which is the reason for the cannon-like launcher. Wind speed and direction readings were taken just prior to launch and corrections were made to compensate for the wind by tilting the barrel of the launcher.

The rocket was loaded through the door at the bottom of the large air chamber at the back of the launching tube. As the solid-propellant engine fires, the air chamber trapped the exhaust gases of the engine, and pressure built up inside the chamber. This pressure pushed on the back of a piston attached to the nozzle end of the rocket, accelerating it along the launch tube. the rocket was supported inside the tube by plastic spacers which fell away from the rocket, along with the piston, as it left the launcher. The Arcas rocket emerged from its launcher tube at just under 200 feet per second and accelerated relatively slowly.

Patrick Air Force Base, Florida provided the museum display in January 1974.

The Arcas rocket can be found in the Museum Exhibit Hall and an Arcas Instrumentation Package is on display in the History Center.