NW073 1/144 Diamant A
first French satellite launch vehicle
The Diamant rocket (diamant is French for "diamond")
was the first exclusively French expendable launch system and at
the same time the first satellite launcher not built by either
USA or USSR. As such it is the main predecessor of all subsequent
European launcher projects.
Work on a three-stage rocket able to launh a small satellite began in 1960. By 1961, the Diamant A design, capable of lofting 80 kg satellite, had emerged. In adittion to its Emeraude first stage and Topaze second stage, the Diamant featured a new solid fueled third stage P-6.
The first Diamant lifted off from Hamaguir, Algeria, at 2:47 PM on November 26, 1965. Ten minutes later, its payload, the A-1 technological capsule, nicknamed "Asterix", was in orbit. One of Asterix's antennas was damaged when the nose fairing ejected, and the signals from orbit were weak. France had become the third nation to place a satellite on orbit.
Diamant A launched 3 more satellites, each a geodesy probe created by CNES.