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Timeline of Rockets

Two Staged Rockets Are Developed.


V-2 Rocket

V-2 Rocket


Ancient Rocketry 1642 to 1828 1829 to 1930 1931 to 1945 1946 to 1955 1956 to 1966 1967 to 1980 1981 to present


In January, the U.S. outer space research program was started with captured V-2 rockets. A V-2 panel of representatives of interested agencies was formed, and more than 60 rockets were fired before the supply was finally exhausted. On March 15, the first American built V-2 rocket was static-fired at the White Sands Proving Grounds.

The first American-built rocket to leave the earth's atmosphere (the WAC) was launched on March 22nd. It was launched from White Sands, and attained 50 miles of altitude.

The U.S. Army began a program to develop two stage rockets. This resulted in the WAC Corporal as the 2nd stage of a V-2. On October 24th, a V-2 with a motion picture camera was launched. It recorded images from 65 miles above the earth, covering 40,000 square miles. On December 17th, the first night-flight of a V-2 occurred. It achieved a record making 116 miles of altitude, and velocity of 3600 mph.

German rocket engineers arrived in Russia to begin work with Soviet rocket research groups. Sergei Korolev built rockets using technology from the V-2.


The Russians began launch tests of their V-2 rockets, at Kapustin Yar.

Telemetry was successfully used for the first time in a V-2, launched from White Sands. On February 20th, the first of a series of rockets was launched for the purpose of testing ejection canister effectivity. On May 29, a modified V-2 landed 1.5 miles south of Juarez, Mexico, narrowly missing a large ammunition dump. The first V-2 to be launched from a ship was launched from the deck of the U.S.S. Midway, on September 6th.


On May 13th, the first two-stage rocket launched in the Western Hemisphere was launched from the White Sands facility. It was a V-2 which had been converted to include a WAC-Corporal upper stage. It reached a total altitude of 79 miles.

White Sands launched the first in a series of rockets that contained live animals, on June 11. The launches were named "Albert," after the monkey that rode in the first rocket. Albert died of suffocation in the rocket. Several monkeys and mice were killed in the experiments.

On June 26, two rockets, a V-2 and an Aerobee were launched from White Sands. The V-2 attained 60.3 miles, while the Aerobee attained 70 miles altitude.


A number 5 two-stage rocket was launched to 244 miles of altitude, and 5,510 mph velocity over White Sands. It set a new record for the time-being, on February 24.

On May 11, President Truman signed a bill for a 5,000 mile test range to extend from Cape Kennedy Florida. The Secretary of the Army approved the relocation of the White Sands scientists and their equipment to Huntsville, Alabama.


On July 24th, the first rocket launch from Cape Kennedy was a number 8 of the two-stage rockets. It climbed to a total of 25 miles in altitude. A number 7 two-stage rocket was launched from Cape Kennedy. It set the record for the fastest moving man-made object, by traveling Mach 9.


The Jet Propulsion Laboratory of California launched the first of a series of 3,544 Loki rockets, on June 22. The program ended 4 years later, after having fired the most rounds in ten years at White Sands. On August 7, a Navy Viking 7 rocket set the new altitude record for single stage rockets by reaching 136 miles and a speed of 4,100 mph. The launch of the 26th V-2, on October 29, concluded the use of the German rockets in upper atmosphere testing.


On July 22, the first production-line Nike rocket made a successful flight.


A missile was fired from an underground launch facility in White Sands on June 5. The facility was constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers. The first launch of the Army's Redstone missile, on August 20th, was conducted at Cape Kennedy by Redstone Arsenal Personnel.


On August 17th, the first firing of a Lacrosse "Group A" missile was conducted at the White Sands facility.


The White House announced, on July 29th, that President Eisenhower approved plans to launch unmanned satellites to circle the earth, as participation in the International Geophysical Year. The Russians soon made similar announcements. On November 1st, the first guided missile equipped cruiser was placed in commission at the Philadelphia Naval Yard. On November 8th, the Secretary of Defense approved the Jupiter and Thor Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) programs. President Eisenhower placed highest priority on Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) and the Thor and Jupiter IRBM programs on December 1st.

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