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Bumper Project
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Bumper Project
Bumper Project Mission to Earth

Goals: Bumper rockets were the first two-stage rockets -- a German V-2 missile coupled with an American-made WAC Corporal. They were designed to test high altitude rocket systems and study Earth's upper atmosphere.

Accomplishments: Bumper rockets were the first human-made objects to cross the boundary into outer space, although they did not orbit the Earth like Sputnik 1 (the first true spacecraft). The rocket's upper stages were able to reach then-record altitudes of up to 399 kilometers (248 miles), higher than even modern space shuttles fly. The rockets' small science payloads also sent back information on air temperatures and cosmic ray impacts.

Key Dates
Jul 1946:  Program Inception
24 Jul 1950:  First Launch From Cape Canaveral
Status: Successful
Fast Facts
Bumper Project Facts V-2 rockets were originally used by the Germans to bomb London during World War II.

One of the key V-2 designers, Wernher von Braun (right), played a crucial role in developing the U.S. space program after the war.

It took more than a decade to engineer spacecraft such as Sputnik 1 and Explorer 1, which carried space exploration into Earth orbit.
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Last Updated: 14 May 2013