5.4.5: Other Countries

As I said earlier, the USSR made relatively little use of solid motors in space applications. The US-A military radar satellites probably used solid motors to boost their nuclear reactors to high orbit, and the orbital FOBS weapon used a solid retro. In the late 1960s or early 1970s the liquid engines used to deorbit the early Zenit-2 spy satellites were phased out in favor of the PTDU solid deorbit engine, but liquid engines continue to be used for apogee motors and upper stages. The Russian Federation, however, now features the all-solid Start rocket which has five solid stages. Various other solid-propellant military vehicles have been proposed for conversion to space launchers.

The widest range of upper stage solid motors outside the US is probably from Japan, mostly made by Nissan. The original L480S upper stage for Japan's Lambda formed the core of the first successful Japanese satellite Osumi in 1970 (four earlier attempts since 1966 ended up in the ocean). The Mu series of rockets which followed were again all solid rockets. The Mu-3S-II was the last of the original Mu variants and had an M-3B upper stage - but it often also carried small kick motors in the KM series to increase the payload's orbital height or perform solar orbit or translunar insertion burns. The new Mu-V rocket is an entirely new design and has a much larger third stage, the M34, which is even bigger than the Orbus 21 and Star 63.

Meanwhile the larger Japanese N-1 rocket, first launched in 1975, was based on Delta and used a Thiokol Star 37 first stage. The later H-1, however, used a Nissan UM129A motor, and some of its payloads used the first Japanese comsat solid apogee motor after some initial mixed experiences with US-built ones.

France's first launch vehicle, the Diamant, used a P0.64 solid motor third stage made by SEP - this motor is sometimes nicknamed Rubis (Ruby). SEP also provided the Mage apogee motor used for European satellites in the 1980s. Mage 1 was a small motor comparable to the Star 27, but Mage 2 was similar to the larger Star 30 apogee motor.

Italy's most ambitious entry in this field is the Iris solid upper stage, a PAM-class rocket which flew only once in a 1992 Shuttle flight. But the Italian SNIA-BPD firm provided several state-of-the-art apogee motors for European satellites in the 1970s and 1980s and collaborated on Mage.

Britain developed a number of significant solid motors for its sounding rocket program, but only one satellite was ever launched using its Black Arrow rocket, which had a solid motor with the somewhat poetic name of Waxwing.

Finally, India continues to develop its own solid motors based on its 1979 SLV-3 rocket and successors; a Chinese perigee kick motor is now in use based on their 1970-era Long March 1 third stage; and Israel's Shaviyt adds an AUS-51 solid motor to turn their Jericho missile into a satellite launcher.