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Little Joe was an unmanned United States solid-fueled booster rocket used for eight launches from 1959–1960 from Wallops Island, Virginia to test the launch escape system and heat shield for Project Mercury capsules, as well as the name given to the test program using the booster. The first rocket designed solely for manned spacecraft qualifications, Little Joe was also one of the pioneer operational launch vehicles using the rocket cluster principle.
The Little Joe name has been attributed to Maxime Faget at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. He based the name on four large fins which reminded him of a slang term for a roll of four in craps.
A successor, Little Joe II, was used for flight testing of the Apollo launch escape system from 1963–1966.