A Long Tom rocket takes off from the Skylark launcher.Long Tom on display in Woomera
The Long Tom was Australia's first sounding rocket which was first launched from Woomera in October 1957. It was initially developed to test the Woomera rocket range's instrumentation for the British Black Knight and other high-altitude flights.

The two-stage Long Tom was developed in the 1950s by the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury, South Australia. It measured 8.2 metres in length and was stabilised by three fins.

The first launch used the large Skylark launcher (at left), but the third launch caused damage to that facility thereby forcing the Long Tom team to build their own 3-metre long launching rail.

Long Tom's peak flight altitude was around 120 kilometres and it was soon put to use as a research sounding rocket. However, it was later superseded by the HAD and HAT sounding rockets.

The first stage of the vehicle used three Mayfly motors with simultaneous burn times of 3.6 seconds.  The second stage used a single Mayfly motor which ignited for 3.6 seconds some 20 seconds after launch. Sixteen Long Toms were fired.

A History of Woomera
Research Missiles
Tracking Stations
Return To Orbit
Gibber Gabber 
Woomera Village
Woomera Life
Memories of Woomera

Return to Home Page
Copyright © 2001  Mark T. Rigby
(Last updated: 16 October, 2001)