Diagram showing Altair as 4th stage of the Scout B rocket.

The Altair was a solid-fuel rocket with a fiberglass casing, initially developed for use as the third stage of Vanguard rockets in 1959.[1] It was manufactured by Allegany Ballistics Laboratory (ABL) as the X-248. It was also sometimes called the Burner 1.


The X-248 was one of two third-stage designs used during Project Vanguard. Early launches used a stage developed by the Grand Central Rocket Company, but later launches used the X-248 which enabled the Vanguard to launch more massive payloads.

The X-248 was used as the second stage of some early Thor flights. These vehicles were designated "Thor-Burner".

Altairs were used as the third stage of early Delta rockets.

The fourth stage of the Scout rocket also used the "Altair" stage.

Altair 2

The Altair 2 (X-258) Thiokol solid rocket engine first flew in 1963 and was the kick stage motor for Delta D, Scout A, Scout X-4, and Orbiting Vehicle[2] satellites. It was retired in 1973.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Launius, Roger D.; Dennis R. Jenkins (2002). To Reach the High Frontier: A History of U.S. Launch Vehicles. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 186–213. ISBN 0813127211.
  2. ^ Heyman, Jos (2005-04-12). "OV". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles. Designation Systems. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
  3. ^ Wade, Mark. "Altair 2". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on December 28, 2016. Retrieved 19 Nov 2019.