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Lockheed X-17
Lockheed X-17 horizontal.jpg
Type Atmospheric reentry testing
Production history
Manufacturer Lockheed
Length 40 ft 4 in (12.3 m)
Diameter 1st stage: 2 ft 7 in (0.79 m)
2nd stage: 2 ft 5 in (0.43 m)
3rd stage: 0 ft 9.7 in (0.25 m)

Engine 1st stage:1x Thiokol XM20 Sergeant solid-fuel rocket, 48,000 lbf (213 kN)
2nd stage:3x Thiokol XM19 Recruit solid-fuel rocket, 33,900 lbf (150 kN) (each)
3rd stage:1x Thiokol XM19E1 Recruit solid-fuel rocket, 35,950 lbf (160 kN)
Wingspan 7 ft 7 in (2.3 m)
135 miles (217 km)
Flight altitude 250 mi (400 km)
Speed Mach 14.5

Lockheed X-17 on its launching platform

The Lockheed X-17 was a three stage solid-fuel research rocket to test the effects of high mach atmospheric reentry. The first stage of the X-17 carried the rocket to a height of 17 miles (27 km) before burning out. The rocket would then coast on momentum to about 100 miles (160 km) before nosing down for reentry. The second stage engine would then fire before jettisoning and igniting the third and final stage. On April 24, 1957, an X-17 reached a speed of 9,000 miles per hour (14,000 km/h) at Patrick AFB.[1] Ultimately the X-17 would be travelling towards earth at up to Mach 14.5.

The X-17 was also used as the booster for the Operation Argus series of three high-altitude nuclear tests conducted in the South Atlantic in 1958.[2]


  1. E. Emme, ed., Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1915-1960, p. 85.
  2. Carey Sublette (20 September 1997). "Operation Argus tests". Nuclear Weapon Archive. Retrieved 2008-01-11. 

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