Loki was originally conceived to be an unguided anti-aircraft rocket that would be fired in large salvos at enemy aircraft. As with many early American rockets Loki was based on a German rocket design from World War II, the Taifun (“typhoon”). The problem was that the size of the rocket caused such a wake that the flight path of another Loki following behind would be affected. This discovery meant the original concept of hurling salvos of unguided rockets skyward to blast and tear apart incoming enemy aircraft was not possible with this rocket design.
Though the Loki was never deployed to serve in its originally intended role its multi-stage design, which allowed it to climb over fifty miles, was found to be ideal for other usages:
- The warhead was replaced with a chaff dispenser which ejected the chaff at Loki’s apogee where radars could track their speed of movement. This provided a method by which high altitude wind speeds could be accurately measured. This information was vital in planning upper atmospheric launches of other larger rockets.
- The variant found in the Missile Park is the Loki Dart which was used to collect meteorological information. This variant was sold to the civilian market and was instrumental in developing the picture we have today of global weather patterns.Until recently, it was fired daily carrying weather instruments to measure atmospheric conditions over the missile range.