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Have any rockets ever been made with fivefold or sevenfold symmetry? Five or seven (or larger prime numbers, or multiples thereof) identical engines or boosters equally spaced around the center. (The USSR's N1's first stage had thirty engines, a multiple of five, but its symmetry was sixfold.)

  • Built, not only designed.

  • Able to climb 100 km. Need not put a payload into orbit, so sounding rockets are ok.

  • Need not have been flown successfully.

Such symmetries occasionally appear in other engineering disciplines, so I'd expect them to appear eventually in rocketry too, even though sixfold symmetry has a better packing density.

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The rocket as a whole didn't have that kind of radial symmetry, but the second stage of the Jupiter-C/Juno launcher consisted of a cluster of 11 solid rocket motors.

A technician next to the Jupiter second stage, consisting of a ring of white cylindrical tubes with rocket nozzles at the bottom of each. The individual tubes are each a little over a meter long and about 15-20cm in diameter.

The third stage of the Jupiter-C is a cluster of 3 similar motors, and is actually nestled inside the ring of 11 second-stage motors.

The second and third stage assembly was enclosed in a cylindrical shell, so the "11-fold symmetry" of the stage isn't evident; the upper stage "tub" is spin-stabilized, and actually gets spun up before lift-off, as you can see at the beginning of this video of a Jupiter-C launch.

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  • $\begingroup$ What a video. "Wheee!" $\endgroup$ – Camille Goudeseune Dec 5 '20 at 21:46
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Astra Space is trying to launch a rocket. (Soon!)

It has apparent pentagonal symmetry, due to the interesting form of its payload fairing (seems I count ten sides) and the five-engine cluster it uses on the first stage.

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Hopefully they make it to space soon!

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