Re-Launching the First Science Rocket to Space

From NASA/JPL. A NASA scientist, physics professor, and model rocket hobbyist recreates an historic rocket launched by aeronautics pioneer Frank Malina. The first WAC Corporal dummy round was launched on September 16, 1945 from White Sands Missile Range near Las Cruces, New Mexico. After a White Sands V-2 rocket had reached 69 miles on May 10, a White Sands WAC Corporal reached 80 km (49 mi) on May 22, 1946 — the first U.S.-designed rocket to reach the edge of space (under the U.S. definition of space at the time). On February 24, 1949, a Bumper (a German V-2 rocket acting as first stage) bearing a WAC Corporal at White Sands accelerated to 5,150 mph to become the first flight of more than five times the speed of sound.

Scientists were later surprised when almost a year after the launch, tail fragments of the WAC Corporal rocket that reached 5,150 mph and an altitude of over 250 miles, were found and identified in the New Mexico desert near the launch site.

A few WAC Corporals survive in museums, including one at the National Air and Space Museum and another in the White Sands Missile Range Museum. Here are its specs:

Diameter: 1 ft (0.30 m)
Total length: 24 ft (7.34 m)

Tiny Tim booster
Loaded weight: 759.2 lb (344.3 kg)
Propellant weight: 148.7 lb (67.4 kg)
Thrust: 50,000 lbf (220,000 N)
Duration: 0.6 s
Impulse: 30,000 lbf·s (130,000 N·s)

]WAC Corporal sustainer
Empty weight: 296.7 lb (134.6 kg)
Loaded weight: 690.7 lb (313.3 kg)
Thrust: 1,500 lbf (6,700 N)
Duration: 47 s
Impulse: 67,000 lbf·s (300,000 N·s)

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