Rocket History

The Long Tom was the first of a series of Australian-built research or sounding rockets which included Lorikeet, Cockatoo and Kookaburra. The sounding rocket program was jointly run by Britiain and Australia and with launches taking place at Woomera in South Australia. The program started as part of atmospheric research conducted for the International Geophysical Year in 1957. Skylark rockets developed in Britain were used for the initial launches. About 400 rockets were launched before the program ceased in 1975. The 8.2m Long Tom two-stage rocket was developed at the Weapons Research Establishment as a testing vehicle for the larger Black Knight re-entry research rocket but proved to be a useful research tool in its own right. It was used between 1957 and the early 1960s when it was replaced by the High Altitude Density (HAD) and High Altitude Temperature (HAT) rockets. It used four Mayfly motors, three of which burned together as the first stage and a single motor powered the second stage. A total of 16 Long Tom rockets were launched.

Model History

This scale model of a Long Tom rocket was made by the Museum in 1962 from plans provided by the Department of Supply.

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