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Farside Rocket being loaded into the balloon

USAF Project Farside was an early attempt to reach very high altitudes (6437 km). Aeronutronic Systems built the vehicle.

The rocket was launched by a balloon at high altitude. The vehicle itself consisted of a cluster of four Recruit as stage one, one Recruit as stage 2, a cluster of 4 Arrow-2 as stage 3 and finally one Arrow-2 as stage 4. The balloon carried the Farside rocket in a suspended vertical aluminum structure below the balloon. At an altitude of 30 km, the rocket was fired straight through the balloon.

The launches carried instrumentation provided by the University of Maryland and Aeronutronics in Glendale. I consisted of a Geiger Counter and Magnetometer, primarily designed to confirm the Van Allen Belt.

Ten Farside rockets were built, but only six launch attempts were made, with only the last two being successful. Earlier attempts failed due to insufficient Helium load of the balloon, which caused the vehicle to be dropped into the sea in the first launch or one or more rocket stages failed to ignite during next three launches in early October. During the two last flights the vehicles were successful, but the payload malfunctioned.

Version Launch Assist Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4
Farside Balloon 4 × Recruit Recruit 4 × Arrow-2 Arrow-2
No:     Serial: Type:           Date:         LS    Payload

 1              Farside         25.09.1957 F  En  * Farside 1
 2              Farside         03.10.1957 F  En  * Farside 2
 3              Farside         07.10.1957 F  En  * Farside 3
 4              Farside         10.10.1957 F  En  * Farside 4
 5              Farside         20.10.1957    En  * Farside 5
 6              Farside         21.10.1957    En  * Farside 6

Launch sites:

En  = Eniwetok Proving Grounds (EPG), Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands Marshall Islands


  • Frederick I. Ordway III, Ronald C. Wakeford: "International Missile and Spacecraft Guide", McGraw-Hill, 1960
  • Jamie F. Appleton: personal communication

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