HAD (High Altitude Density) was an Australian sounding rocket developed in the early 1960s by the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury, South Australia. Its main use was to investigate the upper atmosphere.

HADs were two-stage vehicles which could reach altitudes of about 120 kilometres from launch sites at Woomera and near Carnarvon on the Western Australia coast. At one stage, ten HAD rockets were launched from Carnarvon within 24 hours to study the changes in the atmospheric characteristics over a one-day period.

HAD atmospheric balloonMany flights involved a HAD reaching its highest altitude, where it released a two-metre balloon made of aluminised polyester film. The balloon inflated and then fell toward the ground, descending to 30 kilometres altitude in about 25 minutes, by which time it had collapsed from the increased atmospheric pressure.

During the descent, the balloon was tracked by radar to provide data on air density and temperature, as well as wind speeds and directions.

The first HAD rocket flew in 1961, but it was later replaced by the Australian Cockatoo.

(Above is an example of one of the balloons which were inflated and released by HAD rockets. At right is a model of a HAD rocket.)

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Copyright © 2001  Mark T. Rigby
(Last updated: 16 October, 2001)