Meteor (rocket)

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Not to be confused with the Meteor air-to-air missile.

Meteor is a designation of a series of Polish sounding rockets. The Meteor rockets were built between 1963 and 1974.

Meteor - Polish one and two stages meteorological rockets, using the solid fuel, constructed with destination for research of the top layers of terrestrial atmosphere, also directions and forces of winds from 18 to more than 50 km above the Earth surface. These rockets were designed by Polish engineers of Warsaw Aviation Institute (for example professor Jacek Walczewski, eng. Adam Obidziński) and had been produced by WZK-Mielec factory.

The History[edit]

The first launching site of the sounding rockets in Poland was Błędowska Desert, where since 1958 to 1963 the rockets of different types had been launched; among others RD and Rasko. During a one flight the biological experiment with earlier trained two white mouses was conducted (the RM-2D rocket achieved the altitude of 1580 meters).

Since 1965 to April 1970 year the Meteor-1 rockets had been launched from "spaceport" located 5 km from Ustka town. This programme had been continued to 1974, when rockets were bearing out from the area of experimental center founded there during the years of the Second World War, located on west side of Łeba town. Currently museum (the starting place with ramp and the radar bases).

There was 224 flights of all types of "Meteor-1" rocket (with prototypes). The valuable data both meteorological and connected with rocket technics were found in the result of these researches.

The "Meteor-1" and "Meteor-2H" were single-stage rockets. The Meteor 2K (the largest civilian rocket developed in Poland) was a single-stage rocket. The Meteor 3 was a two-stage rocket, developed from Meteor 1.

Meteor 1 Meteor 2H Meteor 2K Meteor 3
maximum altitude 40 km 68 km 100 km 65 km
takeoff thrust 14 kN 24 kN 52 kN 14 kN
diameter 12 cm 35 cm 35 cm 12 cm
length 2.5 m 4.5 m 4.3 m 4.3 m

Meteor rockets had been launched from Łeba and Ustka. Five Meteor rockets missions were conducted around 1970 from Zingst, in former Eastern Germany. The programme of flights of Meteor-2 was finished during the same year, when Poland started to parcitipate in Interkosmos research, using the Vertical rockets.


One stage, but two units rocket called "Meteor-1" had the length equal to 2470 mm and the initial mass equal to 32,5 kg. The duration of flight to the altitude equal to 36,5 km was eqal to 80 seconds. During the time of working engines equal to 2–3 seconds the maximal velocity of 1100 meters per second was reached. In 1965 year 6 rockets of "Meteor-1" type was launched and after this time: 12 in 1966, 40 in 1967, 45 in 1968, 36 in 1969, 34 in 1970 and 4 in 1971.

The charge of metal dipoles was released by rockets and this material had later been observed on radar screens. It was the base of derivation of winds strength in the stratosphere and winds directions in the same atmospheric layer. After experiments that had been conducted in the years 1965-1966, therefore also during "The Year of the Quiet Sun", a cyclic pattern of variation in case of directions of these atmospheric flows was concluded.


The one stage "Meteor-2K" was the most advanced version of the Meteor rocket. On 7 October 1970 the record flight took place and the altitude of 90 kilometers was reached. The rockets of this type had been used as sounding of the ionosphere, reaching the level of boundary between D and E layers. 10 flights of this version were realized, when for example measurements of temperature were made. The length of rocket frame was equal to 4,5 meters and was even some longer than for a newer version of English rocket called Petrel (it had been in use since 1968). The "Meteor-2" had not been produced in serial way. The cost of this rocket prototype was eight times higher than for copy of the "Meteor-1". The weight of useful charge, in form of "RAMZES" recovery probe, was equal to 10 kg.


Two stage, but three units rocket called "Meteor-3" was developed version of "Meteor-1". The range of flight was increased and the rocket gained possibility of launching of few charges of dipoles. The ceiling for "Meteor-3" falls in range of altitudes between 67 and 74 kilometers. At least an idea of version "S" project had been considered. This model could start flight from airplane frame, about 5 kilometers above terrestrial surface.


The project of rocket, with thrust ten times bigger than created by "Meteor-2" engine. This version could reach the ceiling above 100 km. According to design this rocket was longer than 5 meters and the initial total mass equal to 407 kg with useful weight of 10 kg. The altitude of 120 kilometers should be reached after 175 seconds of flight.

Launch Log[edit]

An incomplete list of Meteor launches

Number Date Launch site Maximum altitude (kilometres) Rocket type Remarks
1 1963 Leba 36 Meteor 1 Test flight
2 April 1965 Leba 36 Meteor 1 Aeronomy mission
3 June 15, 1965 Leba  ? Meteor 1 Aeronomy mission
4 June 15, 1965 Leba  ? Meteor 1 Aeronomy mission
5 June 16, 1965 Leba 36 Meteor 1 Aeronomy mission
6 April 5, 1967 Leba 36 Meteor 1 Aeronomy mission
7 April 5, 1967 Leba  ? Meteor 1 Aeronomy mission
8 May 13, 1967 Leba 36 Meteor 1 Aeronomy mission
9 1968 Leba 68 Meteor 2H Test flight
10 1968? Leba 68 Meteor 2H Test flight
11 October 1968 Leba 65 Meteor 3 Aeronomy mission
12 1969? Leba 68 Meteor 2H Aeronomy mission
13 1969? Leba 68 Meteor 2H Aeronomy mission
14 1969? Leba 68 Meteor 2H Aeronomy mission
15 October 3, 1969 Leba 48 Meteor 3 Aeronomy mission
16 October 3, 1969 Leba 49 Meteor 3 Aeronomy mission
17 October 3, 1969 Leba 45 Meteor 3 Aeronomy mission
18 1970? Leba 68 Meteor 2H Test flight
19 July 10, 1970 Leba 85 Meteor 2K Aeronomy mission
20 July 10, 1970 Leba 100 Meteor 2K Test flight
21 August 22, 1970 Leba 57 Meteor 3 Aeronomy mission
22 September 2, 1970 Leba 63 Meteor 3 Aeronomy mission
23 September 7, 1970 Leba 62 Meteor 3 Aeronomy mission
24 September 9, 1970 Leba 61 Meteor 3 Aeronomy mission
25 October 7, 1970 Leba 75 Meteor 2K Aeronomy mission
26 October 7, 1970 Leba 89 Meteor 2K Aeronomy mission
27 June 11, 1973 Leba 22 Meteor 1 Aeronomy mission
28 June 12, 1973 Leba 23 Meteor 1 Aeronomy mission
29 June 14, 1973 Leba 40 Meteor 3 Aeronomy mission
30 June 15, 1973 Leba 22 Meteor 3 Aeronomy mission
31 June 15, 1973 Leba 40 Meteor 1 Aeronomy mission
32 September 15, 1973 Leba 36 Meteor 1 Aeronomy mission
33 September 16, 1973 Leba 44 Meteor 3 Aeronomy mission
34 September 17, 1973 Leba 45 Meteor 3 Aeronomy mission
35 September 18, 1973 Leba 44 Meteor 3 Aeronomy mission
36 June 6, 1974 Leba 65 Meteor 3 Aeronomy mission

External links[edit]