Cherokee (rocket)


The Cherokee was an experimental rocket built by the Cook Electric Co. for use by the United States Air Force during the 1950s for the testing of ejection seats.

FunctionExperimental rocket
ManufacturerCook Electric Co.
Country of originUnited States
Height7.6 metres (25 ft)
Diameter1,300 millimetres (51 in)
Mass2,000 kilograms (4,500 lb)
Launch history
Launch sitesEdwards Air Force Base
Holloman Air Force Base
Total launches4
Partial failure(s)4
First flightJanuary 26, 1954
Last flightApril 3, 1956
First stage
Powered by1
Maximum thrust222 kN (50,000 lbf)
Burn time3 seconds


Made from aluminum,[1] Cherokee was a blocky, simple design that was designed for air-launch from a B-29 bomber.[2] It was operated as part of Project Whoosh, an effort to determine if the use of ejection seats at supersonic speeds was feasible.[3]

Launched from the B-29 mothership at an altitude of 6 miles (9.7 km)[4] it would fire a solid-fueled rocket to accelerate to supersonic speed, at which point the ejection seat, containing an anesthetized chimpanzee as a test subject, would be fired.[3] The first test took place on January 26, 1954, at Edwards Air Force Base; another test in June was held before the project moved to Holloman Air Force Base, with two further tests being carried out in July 1955 and April 1956.[5] None of the four chimpanzees used in the tests survived due to difficulties with the ejection system, however the project was considered a partial success.[5]


  1. ^ Ordway and Wakeford 1960, p.179.
  2. ^ Shinabery, Michael. "Whoosh failures were 'instructive' Archived 2014-05-17 at the Wayback Machine". October 26, 2008. Alamogordo Daily News. Accessed 2014-05-17.
  3. ^ a b Burgess and Dubbs 2006, p.107.
  4. ^ Parsch 2003
  5. ^ a b Bushnell 1958, p.56.
  • Burgess, Colin, and Chris Dubbs. Animals in Space: From Research Rockets to the Space Shuttle. 2006. New York: Springer Publishing. ISBN 978-0387360539.
  • Bushnell, David. History of Research in Space Biology and Biodynamics at the U.S. Air Force Missile Development Center, Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico: 1946-1958. Historical Division, Office of Information Services, Air Force Missile Development Center, Air Research and Development Command, Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. 1958. Accessed 2014-05-17. ASIN B0019QSQ1E.
  • Parsch, Andreas (2003). "Cook Cherokee". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles. Retrieved 2014-05-17.