The "Official Word" on the Nike-Sandhawk design

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Well-Known Member
Feb 22, 2003
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A month or so ago, I had found a page online in regards to the possibility that Sandia National Laboratories had proposed a Nike-Sandhawk combination, amongst their original design for the Sandhawk, Terrier- Sandhawk, and Dart-Sandhawk.

So after a discussion over at Scaleroc with Pete Alway, he mentioned that my best bet would be contact Sandia and see if I could get any official information from them on such a design. He personally had never heard of any such proposal, but did state it was "possible".

I emailed the company immediately - including the above link - asking them if they had any information on such a design combo and whether it was ever flown. I thought that like most email attempts for data and info, my query had fallen on death ears, or had landed on the desk of someone who didn't want to help. A month had passed with no contact, and I was going to write them a letter via snailmail to see if I could muster a response.

Yesterday I recieved the following email from a Richard G. Hay, whom is the Manager of Sandia National Laboratorie's Range Integration & Laboratory Support Department


This is in response to your request for information on the Nike-Sandhawk rocket system.

I was able to find a proposal dated March 30, 1967 that indicates that Sandia was seriously considering building and flying a Nike-Sandhawk but in checking both written records and in conversations with people who were active in the rocket program in the Sandhawk era I was unable to find evidence that such a system was actually flown.

Sandia did fly single stage Sandhawk, Sandhawk-Dart, Sandhawk-Tomahawk, Terrier-Sandhawk-9, Terrier-Sandhawk-13, and Terrier-Sandhawk-17 (where the number is the payload diameter in inches).

I suspect that the availability of the Terrier system preempted the need to develop the Nike boosted system.

I'm told by the aerodynamics engineers that were around in that era that they were worried about the large Sandhawk fins reducing the stability of the system if the usual 2.5 sq-ft Nike fins were employed.

Our files show the last Sandhawk system flown by Sandia was a Terrier-Sandhawk flown on September 12, 1977. It was an ionospheric modification experiment flown for Los Alamos Scientific Laboratories named "Lagopedo Dos" from Sandia's Kauai Test Facility.

I suspect that the availability of the Malemute motor with similiar characteristics contributed to the end of Sandhawk usage. I think that as of the beginning of this year there were still two Sandhawk motors in Sandia's motor inventory.

I looked for a Sandhawk system photo and found the one attached. It's a Terrier-Sandhawk that was flown from Kauai Test Facility Pad 12 on May 14, 1976.

This was an X-ray experiment.

I have also attached a scanned version of the development proposal for the Sandhawk systems. The Nitehawk system mentioned is a Nike-Tomahawk.

I hope this answers the question about the Nike-Sandhawk.


Richard G. Hay
Manager - Range Integration & Laboratory Support Department
Sandia National Laboratories MS-1185
P.O. Box 5800
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87185-1185


So, while the "official" word from Sandia is that a Nike-Sandhawk was never built or flown, we do have the drawing available for a scale design based off of the original proposal.

I've uploaded the image to:

I've tried unsuccessfully to upload the Sandia .pdf document in zip formatting, but Tripod is being APITA at the moment. If your interested in this document, please let me know, and I can send you a copy via email.

If someone would be interested in hosting this data for the long term, I'd certainly appreciate it.

Details follow:

The 2.8 meg Sandia Corporation .pdf Document from March 30, 1967 that is the original proposal for the following 4 designs:

Terrier- Sandhawk

It details the objectives that Sandia had set forth for this family of rockets, and in addition, it has a hand drawn sketch for each of the 4 proposed systems with station numbers.

Good work, silverleaf!

BTW, something on the linked page caught my eye: the bit about the "failed Nike-Orion". In the current issue of Sport Rocketry (which i received yesterday) that system is featured in Pete Alway's scale column. he indicated it is a very successful launch vehicle, in use as recently as 2000. Just curious...

Many thanks. 8)

I don't recieve that magazine, but I read the same passage at the site with interest as well. Does Pete have any details on it in the column ?

If not, perhaps a thread over at Scaleroc asking for details would be beneficial so that we can find out what needed to be done to help make it stable.

As to the pdf document, a follow up to my original thread has been posted to Scaleroc and DARS in light of a recent email recieved from Mr. Richard Hay. I'm reposting it here for clarity:

-----Original Message-----
From: Silverleaf [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Friday, March 19, 2004 10:38 AM
To: [email protected]
Subject: [Scaleroc] Nike-Sandhawk follow-up


I recieved an email from Mr. Wilson of DARS that an offer had been made to host the pdf document which was referenced in a recent thread that I started here at Scaleroc.

First off, my sincere appreciation for the offer, but it looks as if
I was a bit premature in posing the original question about hosting possibilities. At the time, I was under the assumption that the pdf document fell into the category of "old declassified data" and would therefore be able to be posted freely for anyone whom desired it online.

In any other situation, that would be the case, but in a follow up
email with Mr. Richard Hay, I had asked about posting this document online in a permanent setting for our rocket based community, and I've included his follow-up reply for clarity:


R.S. Barker:

I'm glad to hear that the information I provided to you will be
useful in sorting out the Nike-Sandhawk question. I should point out that Sandia National Laboratories is a Department of Energy
Laboratory that deals with technological concerns mainly related to national security.

There might be people worldwide who are concerned with knowing what it is or was of interest to the Laboratories. While the information I provided to you is not sensitive, my preference would be for it not to be left wide open in the public domain for extended periods.

I'm not asking that you do not discuss it with other people who build rocket models just that you do it in a manner that allows you to control distribution to those you feel have a legitimate use for the information.


So, in accordance with Mr. Hay's wishes, I'm changing my original
offer to upload this document to a permanent setting, simply because I feel an obligation to respect his wishes - especially considering he took the time to help me with the original search for Nike-Sandhawk data.

Odd yes given the age of the document, but in these days, I see his point clearly.

I would have no problem sending a copy out to interested parties, but such an inclusion would include a personal request from me that it not be posted online permanently.

My apologies for any problems my original communication may have caused.

R.S. Barker