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Like its predeccesor the Little Joe I, the Little Joe II was a booster rocket designed to test a tractor rocket escape system, in this case for the Apollo project command module.

Initially, like the Little Joe I, the flight trajectory was determined by the configuration of seven solid fuel rocket engines. However, control surfaces on the fins and a reaction control system were soon added.

The Little Joe II was first launched from White Sands, New Mexico on August 28, 1963. It flew five times, with its last flight on January 20, 1966. This last flight was the only one to use a flight model of the Apollo command module; all the rest used boilerplate models. Although more flights had been planned initially, Little Joe II and the escape system were such a succes that no more were needed.

The Little Joe II was 154 inches in diameter and 86 feet long with the Apollo capsule and escape tractor rocket in place.

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