NW062 1/144 Little Joe I
Mercury program LES test launch vehicle
The Little Joe I was built for unmanned flight tests of the
Mercury capsule and launch escape system. The unguided vehicle
was propelled by a cluster of 8 solid motors.
The first unmanned Mercury flight began atop a Little Joe I at Wallops Island on August 21, 1959.
LJ-5B lifted off on April 28, 1961. The Little Joe malfunctioned, as one rocket motor failed to ignite. The failure and the altitude of 7 miles resulted in twice the expected dynamic pressure at the time of the abort. The escape rockets performed well and the Mercury capsule survived in good shape.
In 8 launch attemps, the Little Joe I had fulfilled its mission, proving that the Mercury escape system could perform its job under the harhest conditions expected in a manned flight.