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astronautix.com Navaho


Program: Navaho. Objective: Manned. Type: Spaceplane.

The Navaho intercontinental cruise missile project was begun just after World War II at a time when the US Air Force considered ballistic missiles to be technically impractical. But the Navaho required a huge liquid fuel booster to get its Mach 3 ramjet up to ignition speed. And as it turned out, mastering the Mach 3 air vehicle guidance and materials problem was actually more difficult than solving those of ballistic missiles. In the end, the Atlas ICBM began flight test before the first full sized Navaho could be flown. However the Navaho program provided the technologies that allowed the US to develop ballistic missiles rapidly in order to catch up with the Russians. From the Navaho came the rocket engines for the Redstone, Thor, Jupiter, Atlas, Titan, and Saturn I rockets. Navaho also developed chem-milling fuel tank fabrication techniques, inertial and stellar navigation, and a host of other technologies used in later rockets. It put North American Aviation in a leading position that allowed it to capture the prime contracts for the Apollo and Space Shuttle projects, thereby dominating US manned spaceflight for the next fifty years. Major Events: .


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Last update 12 March 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .