Date: 24 Jul 1950
A new chapter in space flight began in July 1950 with the launch of the first rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla: the Bumper 8. Shown above, Bumper 8 was an ambitious two-stage rocket program that topped a V-2 missile base with a WAC Corporal rocket. The upper stage was able to reach then-record altitudes of almost 400 km, which is higher than even modern Space Shuttles fly.
Launched under the direction of the General Electric Company, the Bumper Project was used primarily for testing rocket systems and for research on the upper atmosphere . Bumper rockets carried small payloads that allowed them to measure attributes, including air temperature and cosmic ray impacts. Seven years later, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I and Sputnik II, the first satellites into Earth orbit. In response (in 1958) the US created NASA and launched Explorer 1.
Credit: NASA/U.S. Army