Chapter 4: Launch Vehicle Photo Archive

This archive aims to record images of individual space launch vehicles; there are currently several hundred in the archive, but many more are missing, including almost all the Soviet/Russian ones. I welcome contributions of images (digital or hardcopy), provided they are identified with a specific launch, not just a general type of vehicle.

It's easy to find pictures of rockets, but if you want to find a picture of a specific launch, that's harder. From a historical point of view, it's useful to be able to compare the external configurations of launch vehicles to spot differences between them - and similarities. For instance, the launch photo of

Discoverer 37

reveals it to have a nose shaped like the later KH-4 vehicles and not like the KH-2/3 spy satellites all the historical lists claim it was. Many of the photos of 1960s US launches presented here were previously classified and have not appeared in public before; see for instance the





The launch vehicle photos have been scanned in from hardcopies provided by the USAF, NASA, Arianespace and other agencies, and in a few cases from secondary sources. The vast majority of the photos are from the impressive collection of Peter Hunter, and this project would truly not have been possible without his generosity in loaning me the collection for an entire year. I also thank Keith Scala for contributing some of the Atlas photos.

Index of launches by vehicle type

Index of launches by launch date