Terasca, or Terrier-ASROC-Cajun, was an American three-stage sounding rocket developed and launched by the United States Navy. Derived from a combination of the Terrier, ASROC and Cajun rockets, three launches were attempted during 1959, but only one was successful.

TERASCA rocket being readied
FunctionSounding rocket
ManufacturerNaval Ordnance Test Station
Country of originUnited States
Height11 metres (36 ft)
Diameter460 millimetres (18 in)
Mass1,400 kilograms (3,000 lb)
Payload to 158 kilometres (98 mi)
Mass25 pounds (11.3 kg)
Launch history
Launch sitesVandenberg AFB
Total launches3
First flightMay 1, 1959
Last flightAugust 12, 1959

Design and developmentEdit

The Terrier-ASROC-Cajun ("Terasca") rocket was developed during early 1959 by the Naval Ordnance Test Station, located at China Lake, California, to fill a U.S. Navy requirement for a three-stage sounding rocket, intended to launch experimental payloads for conducting high-altitude research.[1][2] The rocket utilised a combination of existing missiles in its construction; the first stage was a Terrier surface-to-air missile; an ASROC anti-submarine rocket made up the second stage, while a Cajun sounding rocket was utilised as a third stage.[3]

The Terrier first stage produced 58,000 lbf (258 kN) thrust,[3] while the ASROC second stage provided 11,000 lbf (49 kN),[4] and the third-stage Cajun motor had a thrust rated at 8,100 lbf (36 kN).[3] The theoretical apogee for Terasca was 98 miles (158 km); it could carry a scientific payload of up to 25 pounds (11 kg).[5]

Operational historyEdit

Three launch attempts of the Terasca missile were made from the launch facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base during 1959, utilising the Western Launch and Test Range. The first launch attempt took place on May 1; this launch was a failure.[3][6] A second launch attempt on June 26, however, was successful, with the rocket reaching an apogee of 60 miles (97 km).[3][6] A third launch, attempted on August 12, however, was also a failure;[6] following the third launch, the Terasca program came to a close.[3]

Launch historyEdit

Date/Time (GMT) Rocket Launch site Outcome Remarks[6]
1959-05-01 Terasca Vandenberg Air Force Base Failure Apogee 0 kilometres (0 mi)
1959-06-26 Terasca Vandenberg AFB Success Apogee 100 kilometres (62 mi)
1959-08-12 Terasca Vandenberg AFB Failure Apogee 0 kilometres (0 mi)


  1. ^ FAA 2005, p.37.
  2. ^ The Rocketeer, Nov. 1993
  3. ^ a b c d e f Parsch 2007
  4. ^ Chant 1990, p.236.
  5. ^ Corliss 1971, p.83.
  6. ^ a b c d "Terrier ASROC Cajun". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on September 4, 2003. Retrieved 2011-01-15.
  • Chant, Christopher (1990). Sea Forces of the World. New York: Crescent Books. ISBN 978-0-517-69129-8.
  • Corliss, William R. (1971). NASA SOUNDING ROCKETS, 1958-1968: A Historical Summary. The NASA Historical Report Series. Vol. SP-4401. Washington, D.C.: National Aeronautics and Space Administration Scientific and Technical Information Office. ASIN B0006C0SRW. Retrieved 2011-01-15.
  • "China Lake Weapons Digest: 50 Years of Providing the Fleet with the Tools of the Trade". The Rocketeer. China Lake, CA: Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. U.S. Naval Museum of Armament & Technology. November 4, 1993. Archived from the original on December 27, 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-15.
  • "Suborbital Reusable Launch Vehicles and Emerging Markets" (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration Office of Commercial Space Transportation. February 2005. Retrieved 2011-01-15.
  • Parsch, Andreas (2007). "(Other): "Missile Scrapbook"". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles. designation-systems.net. Retrieved 2011-01-15.