KING OF GODS: The Jupiter Missile Story
Sixth in a Series Reviewing Jupiter's Place in Space
by Ed Kyle, Updated 7/31/2011
AM-24 in LC 6 Squaretop Gantry (Foreground) and Juno II AM-19A on LC 5 (Background),
year 1959 was Jupiters busiest, with 15 IRBM test flights
and four Juno II orbital attempts. Thirteen of the Jupiter flights succeeded.
Several succeeded spectacularly, dropping their nose cones within a few hundred meters of
their targets after flights of 2,400 kilometers (1,300 nautical miles). One achieved
the feat after a 2,963 kilometer (1,600 nautical mile) flight.
of the testing program included the first flight of a Chrysler-built Jupiter, CM-21, on
January 21, 1959, the launch and recovery of primates Able and Baker during the May 28,
1959 AM-18 Bioflight 2 mission, and the first full range, aforementioned 2,963 km tactical
prototype test flight by missile AM-31 on October 21, 1959. Three short range
flights successfully hit targets 556 to 1,231 kilometers (300 to 665 nautical miles)
flew from all four pads at ABMAs Missile Firing Laboratory during 1959. Two
Redstone crew training launches also took place during the year from LC 26A.
CM-22 at LC 26B,
Chrysler missiles flew during 1959. The first three, CM-21, CM-22, and CM-22A all
flew successfully, but suffered slight targeting errors that placed their nose cones 5 to
9 kilometers (2.8 to 5 nautical miles) off target. The first two suffered vernier
thrust termination squib failures. The third was caused by a drifting
gyroscope. Jupiter missile CM-33, launched November 4, 1959, was the first
completely successful Chrysler Jupiter and the first Jupiter to be launched without a
static firing at Redstone Arsenal. It landed within 1,000 meters (0.56 nautical
miles) of its target.
the landmark Bioflight 2 mission, Able, a 3.2kg rhesus monkey, and Baker, a 0.5kg squirrel
monkey, rode inside special capsules placed inside the Jupiter nose cone. Both
female primates were exposed to 38g deceleration during reentry after a period of about 9
minutes of weightlessness. They survived the 2,411 kilometer (1,302 nautical mile)
flight and were recovered by the U.S. Navy.
monkeys became instant celebrities, appearing on the cover of Life magazine.
Unfortunately, Able died five days later from anesthesia administered as part of a minor
procedure to remove implanted electrodes. Life magazine dramatically detailed
Ables death with photos of an Army surgeon attempting mouth to mouth
resuscitation. Baker, who sensors hinted may have slept through part of the flight,
lived until 1984.
Jupiter missile failures occurred during 1959. AM-12 suffered a thrust control
failure during its May 6, 1959 flight and landed 128 kilometers (69 nautical miles) short
of its 2,400 kilometer range target. The second failure was much more spectacular.
two months after the infamous Juno II AM-16 failure off LC 5, Jupiter missile AM-23 did a
similar cartwheel seconds after liftoff. AM-23, carrying a Bioflight 3 payload that
included 14 mice, lifted off from LC 26B on September 15, 1959 at 16:45 EST, following 12
hours and 15 minutes of countdown delays. The missile was immediately in trouble,
wobbling as it rose. Its kerosene tank suddenly ruptured just before it flipped
upside down and, 14 seconds after liftoff, began to break up. A failed silver solder
connection to a pressure sphere caused the failure. The resulting explosion and
debris damaged Juno II AM-19A standing on LC 5, but the damage was repairable.
AM-19A went on to successfully orbit Explorer 7 on October 13, 1959.
the failure, Jupiter flight testing accelerated. Eight Jupiter launches took place
between September 30, 1959 and February 4, 1960. All were essentially
successful. The latter launch, by AM-30, was the 29th and final R&D missile test
flight. Twenty-two of the R&D flights succeeded.
IOC Missile with Flower Petal Hanger
Jupiter development had succeeded, but deployment lagged. April 1958 plans called
for placing three squadrons of 15 missiles each in France, but newly elected Charles de
Gaulle refused to accept the plan.
Jupiter did not have a deployment site, planning continued. The Strategic Air
Command activated its 864th Strategic Missile Squadron (SMS), later renamed Technical
Training Squadron (TTS), on January 15, 1958 at ABMA. This unit began training in
March. Two additional squadrons, the 865th and the 866th, were also activated during
delivered the first IOC (Initial Operating Capability) Jupiter, Missile 101, to the Air
Force on August 28, 1958. Missiles 102, 103, and 104 were delivered during September
and Missile 105 in early October. All five were allotted for crew training
delivered its first IOC Jupiter, Missile 201, on April 6, 1959. ABMA delivered the
last of its IOC Jupiter missiles in October 1959, after manufacturing 22 100-series
Block 1 IRBMs. Chrysler produced Jupiters until the end of December
1960, delivering 40 200-series missiles. Total production averaged three missiles
per month during the IOC delivery period.
April 1959, after months of negotiations, the Air Force began planning to deploy two
Jupiter IRBM squadrons in southeast Italy in the countryside northwest of Taranto at the
top of Italys heel. The two squadrons would be deployed at 10
sites, with three missiles per site. Italian Air Force crews would operate the
missiles, but U.S. Air Force teams would control the 1.44 megaton nuclear warheads.
October 1959, the U.S. and Turkey signed an agreement allowing deployment of one Jupiter
squadron among five sites in the regions around Gigli Air Force Base near Izmir, on
Turkeys western, Aegean Sea coast. U.S. crews manned the initial missile
sites, but Turkish Air Force crews soon replaced them.
two Italian squadrons were activated between July 1960 and June 1961. Turkeys
Jupiters were activated between mid 1961 and April 1962. Each squadron had 15
missiles standing on launchers and a handful, perhaps two or three per squadron, of
maintenance float missiles.
CM-209 CTL Preps
Showing Cable Erector System
triple-missile emplacements were located about 30 miles apart. Approximately 15
personnel manned each emplacement. Each missile stood on a launch pedestal with the
base of the missile enclosed in a flower petal shelter composed of hinged, wedge shaped
metal panels. Propellant lines were always connected, allowing missiles to stand on
15-minute combat readiness. During the 15 minute countdown, propellant would be
loaded, the guidance system would be aligned, and targeting information would be
squadron had a rear support area with liquid oxygen and nitrogen generating plants.
Tanker trucks delivered the always-evaporating cryogenic liquids to emplacements several
times a week to refill on-site tanker trucks.
20 vehicles supported each emplacement. These included trailers for kerosene and
liquid oxygen, generator trucks, a power distribution truck, and a command trailer.
Initial Army plans had called for fully mobile deployment methods, but the U.S. Air Force
deleted the mobility requirement in November 1958. As a result, a single control
trailer ended up controlling three missiles rather than just one. Launch
transporters and missile erectors were also no longer required. ABMAs mobile
methods included development of a lightweight missile erection system that used a long
boom, cables, and a winch rather than costly hydraulic systems. A simple one-time
cryogenic (dry ice) cooler was used instead of an air conditioning system to keep the aft
section guidance equipment cool prior to launch.
Italian Jupiters, armed with nuclear warheads, were struck by lightning during
1961-62. Two of the strikes partially armed the warheads. Further strikes were
averted by the installation of lightning tower arrays at Jupiter missile sites.
Cuban Missile Crises
April 1962, Nikita Khrushchev vacationed in the Crimea, across the Black sea from
Turkey. There Khrushchev gained an understanding of the threat the Turkish Jupiters
posed to the Soviet Union. When he returned to Moscow, Khrushchev proposed deploying
Soviet missiles in Cuba in response.
September 1962, SS-4 missiles had arrived in Cuba and missile launching sites were under
construction. A U.S. U-2 reconnaissance plane discovered the sites on October 14,
triggering the Cuban Missile Crises.
the Crises, as the U.S. established a naval blockade around Cuba and made preparations to
attack the island nation, Anatoly Dobrynin and Robert Kennedy met several times to discuss
resolution. Soon, the Soviets agreed to withdraw their Cuban missiles if the U.S.
agreed never to attack Cuba. The U.S. also agreed, but only informally, to withdraw
the Jupiter missiles from Turkey. The Jupiter missiles were removed by April 1963,
from both Turkey and Italy.
Crew Training Launch from Pad 26A
After completing Jupiters R&D test flights, the ABMA team performed one last
Live Systems Test launch on October 20, 1960. The launch used tactical
ground support equipment for the first time. An IOC missile, CM-217, performed the
successful test flight from LC 26A.
Six additional Crew Training Launches, set up and flown by NATO crews from LC
26A, were performed between April 1961 and January 1963. Tactical IOC missiles
performed the launches. All of the launches flew safely down range. Only one,
by CM-114 on April 18, 1962, failed to reach its target. The failure, which left the
warhead 230 nautical miles short of its planned 1,514 nautical mile range target, was
caused by early fuel depletion. it was the only failure among the final 15
The final Jupiter launch, performed by Missile CM-106 on January 22, 1963, was the 36th
Jupiter, 46th Jupiter or Juno II, and the 102nd and final launch of any type flown from
ABMAs eight year old Missile Firing Laboratory. By that date, more than a year
had passed since ABMA had ended its support of the Jupiter program. Many of the
original Jupiter developers were by-then working for NASA, on the Saturn program.
Jupiter Launch Log
03/01/57 Jupiter AM-1A R/D CC 5 F Tail Heating 74
04/26/57 Jupiter AM-1B R/D CC 5 F Prop Slosh 93s
05/31/57 Jupiter AM-1 R/D CC 5 1st IRBM Success
08/28/57 Jupiter AM-2 R/D CC 26A
10/23/57 Jupiter AM-3 R/D CC 26B
11/27/57 Jupiter AM-3A R/D CC 26B F Turbopump 101s
12/19/57 Jupiter AM-4 R/D CC 26B F Turbopump 116.87s
05/18/58 Jupiter AM-5 Gaslight CC 26B 1st RV Recovery
07/17/58 Jupiter AM-6B Gaslight CC 26B 1st All-Inertial
08/27/58 Jupiter AM-7 R/D CC 26A
10/10/58 Jupiter AM-9 R/D CC 26B F Prop Leak 49s
12/13/58 Jupiter AM-13 Bioflight 1 CC 26B Gordo no Recover
01/22/59 Jupiter CM-21 Tactical Test CC 5
02/27/59 Jupiter CM-22 R/D CC 26B
04/04/59 Jupiter CM-22A R/D CC 26B
05/07/59 Jupiter AM-12 R/D CC 26B F T-Cntrl, 69NM Short
05/14/59 Jupiter AM-17 R/D CC 5
05/28/59 Jupiter AM-18 Bioflight 2 CC 26B Able & Baker
07/10/59 Jupiter AM-15 R/D CC 26B
08/27/59 Jupiter AM-19 R/D CC 5
09/15/59 Jupiter AM-23 Bioflight 3 CC 26B F Press Sphere 13s
10/01/59 Jupiter AM-24 R/D CC 6
10/22/59 Jupiter AM-31 R/D CC 26A Tactical Prototype
11/05/59 Jupiter CM-33 R/D CC 6
11/19/59 Jupiter AM-25 R/D CC 26B
12/10/59 Jupiter AM-32 R/D CC 6
12/17/59 Jupiter AM-26 R/D CC 26B
01/26/60 Jupiter AM-28 R/D CC 26B
02/05/60 Jupiter AM-30 R/D CC 6 Final R&D Test
10/20/60 Jupiter CM-217 LST CC 26A 1st Tactical GSE
04/22/61 Jupiter CM-209 CTL CC 26A Crew Training
08/05/61 Jupiter CM-218 CTL CC 26A
12/06/61 Jupiter CM-115 CTL CC 26A
04/18/62 Jupiter CM-114 CTL CC 26A F Prop Dplt, 230NM Short
08/01/62 Jupiter CM-111 CTL CC 26A
01/22/63 Jupiter CM-106 CTL CC 26A Last MFL Launch
Juno 2 Launch Log
12/06/58 Juno-2 AM-11 Pioneer 3 CC 5 F Cutoff 3.7s Early
03/03/59 Juno-2 AM-14 Pioneer 4 CC 5 1st U.S. Sun Orbit
07/16/59 Juno-2 AM-16 Explorer S1 CC 5 F Inverter Failure 13s
08/14/59 Juno-2 AM-19B Beacon 2 CC 26B F Control Loss Post S1
10/13/59 Juno-2 AM-19A Explorer 7 CC 5
03/23/60 Juno-2 AM-19C Explorer S46 CC 26B F Stg2 Motor Fail
11/03/60 Juno-2 AM-19D Explorer 8 CC 26B
02/25/61 Juno-2 AM-19F Explorer S45 CC 26B F Cable Tangled U/S
04/27/61 Juno-2 AM-19E Explorer 11 CC 26B
05/24/61 Juno-2 AM-19G Explorer S45A CC 26B F P/S Fail After S1
History of the Jupiter Missile System, James Grimwood,
Frances Stroud, U.S. Army Ordnance Missile Command, July 27, 1962.
Chronology of Army Exploitation of Space, Eddie
Mitchell, RAND, 1991.
Army Ballistic Missile Programs at Cape Canaveral,
1953-1958, Mark C. Cleary, 45th Space Wing History Office.
Images ABMA/USAF with thanks to Art LeBron
Next: Jupiter Follow-Ons