NOTS-EV-1 Pilot

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NOTS-EV-1 Pilot
Project Pilot launch.jpg
Pilot rocket after launch
Function Expendable launch system
Anti-satellite weapon
Manufacturer United States Navy
Country of origin United States
Height 4.4 metres (14 ft)
Diameter 0.76 metres (2 ft 6 in)
Mass 900 kilograms (2,000 lb)
Stages Five
Payload to
1.05 kilograms (2.3 lb)[1]
Launch history
Status Retired
Launch sites China Lake LC-G2
Point Mugu NAS
Total launches 4 Pilot-1
6 Pilot-2
Successes 0
Failures 10
First flight Pilot-1: 1958-07-04
Pilot-2: 1958-07-25
Last flight Pilot-1: 1958-08-17
Pilot-2: 1958-08-28
Notable payloads Pilot
Boosters (Pilot-2) - F-6A Skyray
No boosters 1
Engines 1 J57-8
Thrust 71.14 kilonewtons (15,990 lbf)
Fuel JP-4/Air
First Stage
Engines 2 HOTROC
Thrust 63.2 kilonewtons (14,200 lbf)
Burn time 4.9 seconds
Fuel Solid
Second Stage
Engines 2 HOTROC
Thrust 63.2 kilonewtons (14,200 lbf)
Burn time 4.9 seconds
Fuel Solid
Third Stage
Engines 1 X-241
Thrust 12.1 kilonewtons (2,700 lbf)
Burn time 36 seconds
Fuel Solid
Fourth Stage
Engines 1 NOTS-8
Thrust 5.1 kilonewtons (1,100 lbf)
Burn time 5.7 seconds
Fuel Solid
Fifth Stage
Engines 1 NOTS-3SM
Thrust 700 newtons (160 lbf)
Burn time 1 second
Fuel Solid

The NOTS-EV-1 Pilot, also known as NOTSNIK was an expendable launch system and anti-satellite weapon developed by the United States Navy's United States Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS).[2] Ten were launched during July and August 1958, all of which failed. It was the first air-launched rocket to be used for an orbital launch attempt, however none were recorded as having reached orbit. Following the first and third orbital launch attempts, a tracking station in New Zealand reported receiving weak signals from the spacecraft,[1] however this was never confirmed,[3] and the launches were not catalogued as having reached orbit.[4] The Pilot rocket was part of Project Pilot.[5]

Two variants of the Pilot rocket were built; the Pilot-1,[5] with battleship second to fifth stages,[6] was used for ground-launched atmospheric tests from China Lake, and the Pilot-2,[5] an air-launched version, was used for orbital launch attempts. Orbital launches were conducted from an F-6A Skyray, flying from Point Mugu Naval Air Station,[7] and releasing the rocket over the Santa Barbara Channel Drop Zone.[5] Of the ten launches, four were of Pilot-1s, and the rest Pilot-2s.[3]

Project Pilot was cancelled in August 1958, and replaced by the NOTS-EV-2 Caleb.[8] The project remained classified until 1994.[1]

Launch history[edit]

Date Configuration Payload Function Cause of failure
1958-07-04 Pilot-1 N/A Test Exploded one second after launch[6]
1958-07-18 Pilot-1 N/A Test Exploded on launch pad[6]
1958-07-25 Pilot-2 Pilot-1 Test Unexpected loss of signal[5]
1958-08-12 Pilot-2 Pilot-2 Test Exploded during first stage ignition[1]
1958-08-16 Pilot-1 N/A Test Structural failure 3.2 seconds after launch[6]
1958-08-17 Pilot-1 N/A Test Structural failure 3 seconds after launch[6]
1958-08-22 Pilot-2 Pilot-3 Test Unexpected loss of signal[5]
1958-08-25 Pilot-2 Pilot-4 Radiation research Exploded during first stage ignition[1]
1958-08-26 Pilot-2 Pilot-5 Radiation research Failed to ignite[7]
1958-08-28 Pilot-2 Pilot-6 Radiation research Only one second stage engine ignited[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f LePage, Andrew J. (July 1998). "NOTSNIK: The Navy's Secret Satellite Program". Spaceviews. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  2. ^ Scott, Jeff (2006-04-23). "NOTSNIK, Project Pilot & Project Caleb". Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  3. ^ a b Krebs, Gunter. "Pilot (NOTS-EV-1, NOTSNIK)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  4. ^ McDowell, Jonathan. "Orbital Launch Failures". Orbital and Suborbital Launch Database. Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Wade, Mark. "Project Pilot". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Krebs, Gunter. "Pilot 1 stage (NOTS-EV-1)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  7. ^ a b Krebs, Gunter. "Pilot (NOTS-EV-1)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  8. ^ Parsch, Andreas (2003-10-17). "NOTS NOTS-EV-1 Pilot (NOTSNIK)". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4. Designation-Systems.Net. Retrieved 2009-01-17.