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An extremely successful sounding rocket

Black Brant II: The Pioneer of Sounding Rockets

The Black Brant II was an exceptionally successful sounding rocket developed by the Canadian Armament Research and Development Establishment (CARDE) starting in 1960. Designed for sub-orbital research, the Black Brant series has been widely utilized for atmospheric and space science experiments, making it one of the most enduring and versatile sounding rockets in history.

Black Brant II launch

Development and Design

The inception of the Black Brant II came from the need for a reliable and efficient sounding rocket that could carry scientific payloads to high altitudes. The rocket featured a solid-propellant motor, known for its simplicity and dependability. Over the years, the Black Brant series expanded to include various models, each improving on the previous versions in terms of performance and payload capacity.

Performance and Usage

The Black Brant II could reach altitudes of up to 150 kilometers (93 miles), making it ideal for studying the upper atmosphere and near-space environments. Its robust design allowed for multiple configurations, supporting a wide range of scientific instruments and experiments. The typical payload capacity for the Black Brant II is around 70 kilograms (154 pounds).

The rocket has been launched over 800 times, with an impressive success rate. It has been used by various space agencies, including NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, for missions involving atmospheric research, astronomy, and microgravity experiments.

Black Brant II in-flight

Legacy and Impact

The Black Brant II's success paved the way for subsequent models, such as the Black Brant III, IV, and V, each offering enhancements in payload capacity and altitude reach. The continued use of the Black Brant series highlights its significant contribution to the field of sounding rockets and sub-orbital research.

The reliability and versatility of the Black Brant rockets have made them a staple in the arsenal of scientific research tools, contributing to numerous discoveries and advancements in our understanding of the Earth's atmosphere and space.


The Black Brant II is more than just a rocket; it is a testament to innovation and excellence in aerospace engineering. Its legacy continues to influence the design and development of modern sounding rockets, ensuring that the pursuit of knowledge through sub-orbital research remains vibrant and impactful.

Black Brant II diagram

Summary Data

  • Launch Rate: Over 800 successful launches
  • Maximum Altitude: Up to 150 kilometers (93 miles)
  • Payload Capacity: Approximately 70 kilograms (154 pounds)
  • First Launch Year: 1960
  • Primary Users: Canadian Space Agency, NASA


  1. Canadian Space Agency - Black Brant
  2. NASA Sounding Rockets - Black Brant
  3. Wikipedia - Black Brant (rocket)