When was the first launch ever from Cape Canaveral in Florida? It was on July 24, 1950 with the launch of a Bumper rocket, specifically Bumper #8. It blasted off from Launchpad 3 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It’s amazing to see how close the photographers were allowed to stand to the scene of the action! The little blockhouse for the firing crew and support personnel was located about 152 meters (500 feet) away from launch pad.
These rockets were built by the General Electric Company, and were used mostly for testing rocket systems and for research on the upper atmosphere. The Bumper series of rockets carried small payloads that allowed them to measure attributes including air temperature and cosmic ray impacts. The Bumper rockets were two-stage rockets that used a modified German V-2 missile base and with a WAC Corporal rocket for the upper stage. The upper stage was able to reach then-record altitudes of almost 400 kilometers, which is higher than the International Space Station’s orbit.
Read some interesting history about the Bumper rockets and the early days at Cape Canaveral at the SpaceLine website.
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.