Alternative Name(s): Sounding Rocket

Kookaburra Mark 1, Australian-designed, upper atmosphere research rocket powered by a two-stage (Lupus 1A & Musca) cast composite propellant motor. First launched in 1968, it was used to deploy a parachute-equipped drop sonde which measured upper atmospheric air temperatures and pressures as well as ozone and molecular oxygen concentrations. It could reach a maximum altitude (apogee) of about 75 kilometres, with a typical launch elevation of 82.5° and remained in use until 1975, with an average of 11 firings a year. In March 1970, Australia took part in a joint launch program with the United Kingdom and India to provide a comparative assessment of atmospheric temperature and ozone levels in the Indian Ocean region using group firings of Kookaburra rockets. The rocket motors were manufactured by the Maribyrnong Explosives Factory in Melbourne and the rocket was developed and tested by the Weapons Research Establishment (WRE) at Woomera in South Australia. Mark 2 and Mark 3 versions were developed before 1975 when the Australian research rocket program was terminated.

This example of a Kookaburra Mk. 1 is believed to have been manufactured in 1975 and remained unused at the end of the research program. It was donated to the Museum by the Department of Defence, Maribrynong Explosives Factory in 1994.

Physical Description

Overall rocket consists of two slender pencil or needle-like stages with straight-sided cylindrical bodies 126 mm diameter in the lower or first stage and 89 mm diameter in the upper or second stage. Each stage has four rectangular plan form stabilising fins attached to the nozzle at the base in a cruciform arrangement. All fins are of a plain rectangular shape with uniform thickness throughout. The body of each stage is painted cream/white, with black stenciled lettering, black fins and nozzle and a 7.5° tapered polished metal alloy nose. The lower stage is also fitted with a tapered polished metal tip which fits inside the conical nozzle of the upper stage.

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