Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles
Hera / PLV
Copyright © 2004-2006 Andreas Parsch

Coleman Hera
Lockheed Martin PLV

When the LGM-30F Minuteman II ICBMs were retired, a lot of high-performance solid-fueled rocket motors became available. These motors (Thiokol M55 first stage, Aerojet SR19 second stage and Hercules M57 third stage) were used to create a variety of low-cost suborbital launch vehicles. The Lockheed Martin PLV (Payload Launch Vehicle) and Coleman Aerospace Hera are both two-stage missiles using the 2nd and 3rd stage of the Minuteman II.


The contract for the Hera ballistic target missile was awarded to Coleman by the U.S. Army Space and Strategic Defense Command in 1992. The Minuteman II motors were fitted with a new guidance and control system, an instrumented reentry vehicle, and other minor changes. A total of 25 Hera missiles have been built, and the first launch occurred on 24 April 1995. Until the time of this writing, 23 Hera missiles have been expended, mainly as targets for tests of the Army's THAAD and Patriot PAC-3 anti-ballistic missiles.

Composite Photo: Coleman Aerospace


Lockheed Martin's PLV was built as an interim launch vehicle for the Boeing GBI (Ground Based Interceptor) program. It was used as the booster in tests of the GBI's EKV (Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle) before the purpose-designed booster became available. A total of 10 PLVs were launched in the first 10 EKV flight tests of the GBI program between June 1997 and December 2002 (for additional details, see GBI article).

Photos: Boeing


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for Hera, PLV:

Length11.9 m (39 ft)10.3 m (33 ft 9 in)
Diameter1.32 m (4 ft 4 in) (1st stage)
Weight11300 kg (25000 lb)15000 kg (33100 lb)
Altitude300 km (185 miles)150 km (90 miles)
Propulsion1st stage: Aerojet General SR19-AJ-1 solid-fuel rocket; 268 kN (60300 lb)
2nd stage: Hercules M57A1 solid-fuel rocket; 156 kN (35000 lb)

Main Sources

[1] Mark Wade: Encyclopedia Astronautica
[2] Jonathan McDowell: Launch Vehicles Database

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4

Last Updated: 14 September 2006