Background

President Kennedy Speaks At UN On Joint Moon Flight (Sept 20 1963)

“In a field where the United States and the Soviet Union have a special capacity — space — there is room for new cooperation, for further joint efforts. I include among these possibilities, a joint expedition to the moon.”


Little Joe Rockets

NASA Comparison of Little Joe II to various Saturn rockets including Saturn V that launched Apollo 11 to the moon.

Little Joe rockets have been around since before the Mercury launches. They were designed to test the capsule Launch Escape System (LES). The LES was a tower with solid motors mounted atop the capsule.

Little Joe and Little Joe 2 were designed to test Mercury capsules. Little Joe II was for Apollo capsule tests.


NASA video on flight A-001, the second abort test of the Apollo spacecraft


Apollo Explosion – The Accidental Abort Test A-003

One of the most interesting flights of a Little Joe II was flight A-003 on May 19, 1965. Due to a malfunctioning gyro, the rocket went into a violent spin and disintegrated. The LES functioned perfectly and automatically pulled away from the rocket as it came apart.


Eight Little Joe II rockets were built by General Dynamics. Airframes 12-50-3, 12-50-4, and 12-51-4 were not flown and deemed surplus.

Saturn V
Little Joe II at the New Mexico Museum of Space History

Little Joe II photo by Ben Soyka New Mexico Museum of Space History