Vanguard Rocket Program—All Launch Attempts

This is a compilation of launch film (where available) from all launches and launch attempts in the Vanguard rocket program, from 1956 through 1959. The final two launches of the Navy’s earlier Viking sounding rocket, Viking 13 and Viking 14, were designated Vanguard Test Vehicles TV-0 and TV-1, used to test Vanguard components and operations before beginning tests with the actual Vanguard vehicle with TV-2, a suborbital test with a dummy second and third stage, and TV-3, the first orbital launch attempt, whose spectacular failure caused it to be dubbed “Kaputnik” and “Stayputnik”.

A total of 11 orbital launch attempts were made with the full-up Vanguard launcher, of which only three succeeded. The two upper Vanguard stages, designated “Able”, went on to be used as upper stages of Thor and Atlas boosters for early space launches.


I well remember my juvenile hopes for success and dismay at the impressive explosions - I write prior to seeing the video. I think I recall both on-the-pad and in-the-air rapid incandescent disassemblies.


Fascinating! The bleeding edge of technology. Proof that we have to accept & learn from failures if we ever want to achieve success.

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For those interested, cardstock models of almost all of the Vanguard program rockets are available at The kits are free and pretty easy to make with a little patience.