Spaceflight before 1951
Launch of a V-2 from Peenemünde
National firsts
Spaceflight Germany (1944)
 United States (1946)
 Soviet Union (1948)
Rockets
Maiden flightsNazi Germany V-2
United States Bumper
United States Viking (first model)
United States Aerobee RTV-N-8
United States Aerobee RTV-N-10
United States Aerobee XASR-SC-1
United States Aerobee XASR-SC-2
United States Aerobee RTV-A-1
Soviet Union R-1
Soviet Union R-1A
Soviet Union R-2E
Soviet Union R-2
RetirementsUnited States Bumper
United States Aerobee RTV-N-8
Soviet Union R-1A
Soviet Union R-2E

Spaceflight as a practical endeavor began during World War II with the development of operational liquid-fueled rockets. Beginning life as a weapon, the V-2 was pressed into peaceful service after the war at the United States' White Sands Missile Range as well as the Soviet Union's Kapustin Yar. This led to a flourishing of missile designs setting the stage for the exploration of space. The small American WAC Corporal rocket was evolved into the Aerobee, a much more powerful sounding rocket. Exploration of space began in earnest in 1947 with the flight of the first Aerobee, 46 of which had flown by the end of 1950. These and other rockets, both Soviet and American, returned the first direct data on air density, temperature, charged particles and magnetic fields in the Earth's upper atmosphere.

By 1948, the United States Navy had evolved the V-2 design into the Viking capable of more than 100 miles (160 km) in altitude. The first Viking to accomplish this feat, number four, did so 10 May 1950. The Soviet Union developed a virtual copy of the V-2 called the R-1, which first flew in 1948. Its longer-ranged successor, the R-2, entered military service in 1950. This event marked the entry of both superpowers into the post-V-2 rocketry era.

Origins and rocket development

The era of spaceflight began in 1942 with the development of the V-2 rocket (A-4) as a ballistic missile by Germany, the first vehicle capable of reaching the 100 kilometres (62 mi) boundary of space (as defined by the World Air Sports Federation).[1] On 20 June 1944, a V-2 (MW 18014) was launched vertically, reaching a height of 174.6 kilometres (108.5 mi).[2]

The post-war years saw rapid development in rocket technology by both superpowers, jumpstarted by the dozens of V-2s and hundreds of German specialists that ended up in the custody of the Soviet Union and the United States.[3]: 216–7 [4]: 226 [5]: 43  The V-2, designed for carrying a warhead horizontally rather than vertical science missions, made an inefficient sounding rocket, while the wartime American WAC Corporal sounding rocket was too small to carry much scientific equipment.[4]: 250  In 1946, the US Navy began development of its own heavy sounding rocket, the Viking, derived in part from the V-2.[6]: 21–25 [6]: 236  The Aerobee was developed from the WAC Corporal to loft lighter payloads.[4]: 250–1 

The Soviet Union began military development of the R-1, a copy of the V-2 with modifications intended to improve reliability, in 1947.[5]: 41, 48  Flight testing of this first Soviet-made liquid-fueled missile began on 13 September 1948,[5]: 129  and the rocket entered military service in 1950.[5]: 149  Also from 1947, two advanced rockets with ranges of 600 kilometres (370 mi), the German émigré-designed G-1 (or R-10) and the Russian-designed R-2, competed for limited engineering and production staff, the latter winning out by the end of 1949[5]: 65  and being put into service in 1951.[5]: 274  The draft plan for the 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) range R-3 was approved on 7 December 1949,[5]: 67  though it was never developed, later designs proving more useful and achievable.[5]: 275–6 

Space exploration

V-2, WAC Corporal, and R-1A

Main article: RTV-G-4 Bumper

Main article: R-1 (missile)

Aerobee launch at sea
Aerobee launch at sea

The V-2s captured from Germany at the end of World War II were used for engineering and scientific missions by the United States and the Soviet Union. The first 25 captured V-2s were launched in the 15 months commencing 15 March 1946.[4]: 398  By the end of 1950, more than 60 had been launched by the Americans, most of them equipped with research instruments.[7]: 6  The first biological payloads launched to high altitude were sent on V-2s, starting with seeds and fruit flies in 1947, followed by mice and monkeys from 1948 onward.[8]

The V-2 was also used in early experiments with two-stage rockets: Project Bumper combined the V-2 first stage with the WAC Corporal as second stage. On 24 February 1949, Bumper 5 set an altitude record of 417 kilometres (259 mi).[4]: 257–8  Around 10 WAC Corporals were also launched on their own in this period.[7]: 6 

The Soviet Union launched 11 captured V-2s in 1947.[5]: 41  Three of the V-2s launched by the USSR in 1947 carried 500 kilograms (1,100 lb) experiment packages for measuring cosmic rays at high altitude; at least one returned usable data.[9]: 56  Two Soviet R-1As (an experimental R-1 variant that tested nose cone separation at altitude) also carried scientific equipment during test launches in 1949, but neither returned usable data.[10]

Aerobee

Main article: Aerobee

First launched on 24 November 1947, the solid/liquid-fuel hybrid Aerobee quickly secured a reputation for reliability. With the development of these first generation purpose-built sounding rockets, the exploration of Earth's upper atmosphere and the nearest reaches of space began in earnest, a total of 46 Aerobee flights being launched through 1950.[11] Aerobee flights measured the velocity and density of cosmic rays above 70 miles (110 km) and made high altitude measurements of the Earth's magnetic field. Cameras mounted on Aerobee rockets returned the first high quality aerial photographs of sizeable regions of the Earth as well as large scale cloud formations.[4]: 251 

Viking

Launch of Viking 4
Launch of Viking 4

Main article: Viking (rocket)

Vikings 1 and 2, launched in 1949 from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, both suffered from premature engine cutoff due to turbine leaks, significantly reducing their maximum altitude.[6]: 98–102  The improved Viking 3, launched 9 February 1950 reached 50 mi (80 km) and could have gone higher. However, after 34 seconds of accurately guided flight, the rocket veered westward and had to be destroyed by range safety.[6]: 108–114 

On 10 May 1950, Viking 4 was launched from a site in the Pacific Ocean between Jarvis Island and Christmas Island. The fourth Viking became the first sounding rocket ever launched from a sea-going vessel, the USS Norton Sound. This flight was perfect, reaching 106.4 mi (171.2 km), more than double that reached by the earlier Vikings.[6]: 108–114 

Viking 5, launched 21 November 1950, carried a vast array of radiation detectors. The rocket also carried two movie cameras to take high altitude film of the Earth all the way to its peak height of 108 miles (174 km) as well as Pirani gauges to measure air densities in the upper atmosphere.[6]: 148, 236  Viking 6, launched 11 December, underperformed, reaching a maximum altitude of 40 miles (64 km).[6]: 151–153, 236 

Launches

1942

1942 launches
Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
13 June — 12 December Nazi GermanyV-2 Nazi GermanyPeenemünde Nazi GermanyWehrmacht
Wehrmacht Suborbital Missile test Same day Mixed
7 V-2 rockets launched on test flights, 3 successfully[12]

1943

1943 launches
Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
7 January — 30 December Nazi GermanyV-2 Nazi GermanyPeenemünde, Heidelager Nazi GermanyWehrmacht
Wehrmacht Suborbital Missile test Same day Mixed
39 V-2 rockets launched on test flights; at least 9 failures[12]

1944

1944 launches
Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
20 June Nazi GermanyV-2 Nazi GermanyGreifswalder Oie Nazi GermanyWehrmacht
Nazi GermanyMW 18014[2] Wehrmacht Suborbital Missile test 20 June Successful
First artificial object to cross 100 km.[citation needed]
Vertical test, apogee: 174.6 kilometres (108.5 mi)
8 September Nazi GermanyV-2 Nazi GermanyHouffalize Nazi GermanyWehrmacht
Wehrmacht Suborbital Missile attack 8 September Successful
First combat usage of V-2 after more than a hundred test flights; ~3000 combat launches followed until March 1945[12] (see List of V-2 test launches)

1945

1945 launches
Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
2 October
13:41
Nazi GermanyV-2 Allied-occupied GermanyCuxhaven United KingdomUK military
Suborbital 2 October Successful
First launch of Operation Backfire; apogee: 69.4 kilometres (43.1 mi)[13]
4 October
13:15
Nazi GermanyV-2 Allied-occupied GermanyCuxhaven United KingdomUK military
Suborbital 4 October Partial failure
Apogee: 17.4 kilometres (10.8 mi)[13]
15 October
14:06
Nazi GermanyV-2 Allied-occupied GermanyCuxhaven United KingdomUK military
Suborbital 15 October Successful
Press and international observers present; Apogee: 64 kilometres (40 mi)[13]

1946

1946 launches
Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
16 April
21:47
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 2 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGeneral Electric / US Army
WSPG[14] Suborbital Cosmic Radiation (Applied Physics Laboratory)[16] 16 April Launch failure
First launch of Project Hermes, apogee: 8 kilometres (5.0 mi), guidance failure;[14] carried Geiger counter designed by James Van Allen[15]
10 May
21:15
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 3 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
WSPG[14] Suborbital Cosmic Radiation (APL)[16] 10 May Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 112 kilometres (70 mi), First US spaceflight
29 May
21:12
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 4 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
GE[14] Suborbital Cosmic Radiation (APL)[16] 29 May Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 112 kilometres (70 mi)
13 June
23:40
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 5 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
GE[14] Suborbital Solar Radiation / Ionospheric (Naval Research Laboratory)[16] 13 June Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 117 kilometres (73 mi)
28 June
19:25
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 6 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
NRL[14] Suborbital Cosmic Radiation / Solar Radiation / Aeronomy / Ionospheric[17]: 336–337  28 June Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 108 kilometres (67 mi)
9 July
19:25
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 7 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
GE[14] Suborbital Cosmic Radiation / Ionospheric (NRL) / Biological (Harvard University)[17]: 338–339  9 July Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 134 kilometres (83 mi), sent seeds to space
19 July
19:11
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 8 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
GE[14] Suborbital Ionospheric (NRL)[16] 19 July Launch failure
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 4.8 kilometres (3.0 mi), explosion at 28.5 seconds[14]
30 July
19:36
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 9 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
APL[14] Suborbital Cosmic Radiation / Ionospheric (NRL)[17]: 342–343  30 July Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 167 kilometres (104 mi)
15 August
18:00
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 10 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
Princeton University[14] Suborbital Cosmic Radiation / Ionospheric[17]: 344  15 August Launch failure
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi), guidance failure at 13.9 seconds[14]
22 August
17:15
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 11 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
University of Michigan[14] Suborbital Aeronomy / Ionospheric / Sky Brightness[16][17]: 345  22 August Launch failure
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 0.1 kilometres (0.062 mi), guidance failure immediately after lift[14]
10 October
18:02
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 12 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
NRL Suborbital Cosmic Radiation / Solar Spectroscopy / Aeronomy / Ionospheric / Biological (Harvard)[17]: 346–347  10 October Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 164 kilometres (102 mi),[14] launched with seeds and cross jet attenuation transmitter and receiver
24 October
19:15
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 13 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
APL[14] Suborbital Cosmic Radiation / Solar UV / Aeronomy / Photography[16] 24 October Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 105 kilometres (65 mi), first photo of Earth from space, short burning time (59 sec)[18]
7 November
20:31
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 14 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
Princeton University[14] Suborbital Cosmic Radiation 7 November Launch failure
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 0.4 kilometres (0.25 mi). Guidance failure at 2 seconds, missile turned sideways, flew horizontal and was destroyed.[17]: 350 
21 November
16:55
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 15 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
Watson Laboratories / University of Michigan[18] Suborbital Aeronomy / Ionospheric / Sky Brightness / Voltage Breakdown[17]: 351–352  21 November Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 102 kilometres (63 mi)
5 December
20:08
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 16 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
NRL[14] Suborbital Cosmic Radiation / Solar UV / Aeronomy / Photography[16] 5 December Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 167 kilometres (104 mi), guidance problems
18 December
05:12
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 17 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesGrenades APL[14] Suborbital Cosmic Radiation / Meteor Research / Biological (National Institute of Health)[16] 18 December Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 187 kilometres (116 mi), first night flight of a V-2. Released artificial meteors for photographic observation.[19] Carried fungus spores. Extraordinary range due to guidance failure.[17]: 355–356 

1947

1947 launches
Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
10 January
21:13
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 18 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
NRL Suborbital Cosmic Radiation 10 January Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 116 kilometres (72 mi), roll at 40 seconds[14][17]: 357–358 
24 January
00:22
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 19 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
GE[14] Suborbital Test Guidance System[14] / Hermes A-2 Telemetry System Test[17]: 359–360  24 January Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 50 kilometres (31 mi)
20 February
18:16
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 20 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesBlossom I Air Materiel Command[14] Suborbital Aeronomy (University of Michigan) / Ionospheric (AFCRC, University of Michigan) / Sky Brightness / Voltage Breakdown (AFCRC) / Biological[17]: 361–362  20 February Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 109 kilometres (68 mi), guidance disturbance at 27 sec, roll at 37.5 seconds.[14] Flew with rye seeds, cotton seeds, and fruit flies, the first animals in space.[20]
7 March
18:23
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 21 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
NRL Suborbital Cosmic Radiation / Aeronomy / Solar Radiation / Ionospheric (NRL) / Biological (Harvard) 7 March Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 161 kilometres (100 mi), sent seeds to space[14][17]: 363–365 
1 April
20:10
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 22 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
APL Suborbital Cosmic Radiation / Solar UV (APL, Yerkes Observatory) / Photography 1 April Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 129 kilometres (80 mi)[14][17]: 366–367 
9 April
00:10
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 23 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
APL Suborbital Cosmic Radiation / Solar UV / Photography 9 April Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 103 kilometres (64 mi)[14][17]: 368–369 
17 April
23:22
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 24 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesGrenades GE[14] Suborbital Aeronomy (Signal Corps Engineering Laboratories)[17]: 370–371  17 April Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 140 kilometres (87 mi), roll at 57.5 seconds[14]
15 May
23:08
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 26 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesGrenades NRL Suborbital Aeronomy (SCEL) / Cosmic Radiation / Solar Radiation / Ionospheric (NRL)[17]: 374–375  15 May Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 122 kilometres (76 mi), steering trouble from lift[14]
29 May Nazi GermanyV-2 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesHermes II GE Suborbital Test of ramjet diffusers called "Organ"[22] 29 May Launch failure
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 50 kilometres (31 mi), maiden flight of the Hermes II V-2 variant. Rocket flew south instead of north and landed in Mexico[21]
10 July
19:18
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 29 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
NRL Suborbital Aeronomy / Cosmic Radiation / Ionospheric / Biological (Harvard College Observatory) 10 July Launch failure
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 16.3 kilometres (10.1 mi), steering trouble from lift, cutoff triggered at 32 seconds[14][17]: 383–384 
29 July
12:55
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 30 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
APL Suborbital Cosmic Radiation / Solar UV / Photography 29 July Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 159 kilometres (99 mi), vane #4 ceased to operate at 27 seconds[14][17]: 386–387 
6 September Nazi GermanyV-2 United StatesUSS Midway, Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Bermuda United StatesUS Navy
US Navy Suborbital Missile test 6 September Launch failure
Operation Sandy, first shipboard missile launch, apogee: 1 kilometre (0.62 mi)
9 October
19:15
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 27 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
GE Suborbital Aeronomy (University of Michigan) / Solar UV (NRL)[17]: 376–378  9 October Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 156 kilometres (97 mi), steering disturbance at 48.4 seconds, roll at 52 seconds[14]
18 October
07:47
Nazi GermanyV-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 28 October Partial failure
Apogee: 86 kilometres (53 mi); destroyed during ballistic portion of flight[23]
20 October
07:47
Nazi GermanyV-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 20 October Partial failure
Apogee: 85 kilometres (53 mi); tore loose from launch stand; flew 180 kilometres (110 mi) left of planned target[23]
23 October
14:05
Nazi GermanyV-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 23 October Launch failure
Apogee: 14 kilometres (8.7 mi); payload destroyed, rocket disintegrated[23]
28 October
14:05
Nazi GermanyV-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 28 October Successful
Apogee: 87 kilometres (54 mi)[23]
31 October
13:41
Nazi GermanyV-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 31 October Launch failure
Apogee: 0 kilometres (0 mi); loss of control on longitudinal axis[23]
2 November
15:14
Nazi GermanyV-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 2 November Successful
Apogee: 88 kilometres (55 mi)[23]
3 November
12:05
Nazi GermanyV-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 3 November Launch failure
Apogee: 0 kilometres (0 mi); rolled after launch and lost stabilization[23]
4 November
15:02
Nazi GermanyV-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 4 November Successful
Apogee: 89 kilometres (55 mi)[23]
10 November
09:39
Nazi GermanyV-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 10 November Launch failure
Apogee: 11 kilometres (6.8 mi); lost guidance[23]
13 November
08:30
Nazi GermanyV-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 13 November Successful
Apogee: 89 kilometres (55 mi)[23]
13 November
14:00
Nazi GermanyV-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 13 November Partial failure
Apogee: 89 kilometres (55 mi); broke up on re-entry[23]
20 November
23:47
Nazi GermanyV-2 GE Special United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
GE Suborbital Technology development flight for GE 20 November Launch failure
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 21 kilometres (13 mi), propulsion trouble at 36 seconds[14][17]: 471 
24 November
17:20
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-8 A4 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Navy
APL Suborbital Cosmic Radiation 24 November Launch failure
Apogee: 55.8 kilometres (34.7 mi), maiden flight of the Aerobee RTV-N-8, although three booster tests with dummy upper stages occurred earlier in the year.[17]: 260–261  Flew off course, flight terminated.[24]
8 December
21:42
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 28 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesBlossom II AMC Suborbital Aeronomy (University of Michigan, Boston University) / Solar X-Ray / Ionospheric (Boston University, WADC) / Sky Brightness (AFCRC)[17]: 379–382  8 December Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 105 kilometres (65 mi)[14]

1948

1948 launches
Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
22 January
20:12
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 34 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
NRL Suborbital Aeronomy / Cosmic Radiation / Ionospheric 22 January Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 159 kilometres (99 mi)[14][17]: 396–397 
6 February
17:17
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 36 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
GE Suborbital Technology development flight for GE 6 February Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 113 kilometres (70 mi)[14][17]: 401–402 
5 March
22:51
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-8 A5 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Navy
APL Suborbital Cosmic Radiation 5 March Successful
Apogee: 117.5 kilometres (73.0 mi)[17]: 262–263 
19 March
23:10
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 39 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesBlossom IIA GE / University of Michigan Suborbital Aeronomy / Magnetic Field 19 March Launch failure
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 5.5 kilometres (3.4 mi), air pressure failure caused early burnout[14][17]: 408–409 
2 April
13:47
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 25 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesGrenades USASC / University of Michigan / NRL Suborbital Aeronomy / Cosmic Radiation / Solar UV 2 April Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 144 kilometres (89 mi)[14][17]: 372–373 
13 April
21:41
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-8 A6 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Navy
APL / NOL Suborbital Magnetic field research 13 April Successful
Apogee: 114.3 kilometres (71.0 mi)[17]: 264–265 
19 April
19:54
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 38 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
NRL Suborbital Aeronomy / Cosmic Radiation / Solar UV / Ionospheric 19 April Launch failure
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 56 kilometres (35 mi), guidance failure caused irratic flight and cutoff was triggered at 57.1 seconds[14][17]: 406–407 
13 May
13:43
Nazi GermanyUnited StatesBumper United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesBumper 1 GE Suborbital Solar / Ionosphere 13 May Successful
Maiden flight of Bumper, apogee: 127.6 kilometres (79.3 mi)[25]
27 May
14:15
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 35 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
APL Suborbital Aeronomy / Cosmic Radiation / Solar UV / Photography 27 May Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 140 kilometres (87 mi)[14][17]: 399–400 
11 June
10:22
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 37 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesBlossom III AMC Suborbital Solar X-Ray / Ionospheric / Sky Brightness / Aeronomy / Biological 11 June Launch failure
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 63 kilometres (39 mi), premature valve closure caused an early engine cutoff.[14][17]: 403–405  Carried the monkey Albert I.
26 July
16:47
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-8 A7 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Navy
APL Suborbital Earth Imaging 26 July Successful
Apogee: 112.7 kilometres (70.0 mi)[17]: 266–267 
26 July
18:03
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 40 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
APL Suborbital Cosmic Radiation / Aeronomy 26 July Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 97 kilometres (60 mi), propulsion issues at 45.2 seconds[14][17]: 411–412 
5 August
12:07
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 43 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
NRL Suborbital Aeronomy / Cosmic Radiation / Solar UV / Solar X-Ray / Ionospheric / Photography 5 August Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 167 kilometres (104 mi)[14][17]: 418–419 
6 August
01:37
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-8 NRL 1 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Navy
NRL Suborbital Solar Radiation / Aeronomy 6 August Successful
Apogee: 97 kilometres (60 mi)[17]: 293–294 
19 August
14:45
Nazi GermanyUnited StatesBumper United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesBumper 2 GE Suborbital Solar UV 19 August Launch failure
Apogee: 13.1 kilometres (8.1 mi)[25]
3 September
01:00
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 33 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesGrenades USASC / University of Michigan Suborbital Aeronomy 3 September Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 151 kilometres (94 mi)[14][17]: 394–395 
17 September Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 17 September Launch failure
Maiden flight of the R-1[26]
30 September
15:30
Nazi GermanyUnited StatesBumper United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesBumper 3 GE Suborbital Solar UV / X-Ray 30 September Launch failure
Apogee: 150.6 kilometres (93.6 mi), 2nd stage failure[25]
10 October Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 10 October Successful[26]
11 October Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test, sounding rocket 11 October Successful
First Soviet spaceflight with scientific experiments[26]
13 October Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 13 October Successful[26]
21 October Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 21 October Successful[26]
23 October Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 23 October Successful[26]
1 November
14:24
Nazi GermanyUnited StatesBumper United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesBumper 4 GE Suborbital Test flight 1 November Launch failure
Apogee: 5 kilometres (3.1 mi), tail explosion at 28.5 seconds[25]
1 November Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 1 November Successful[26]
2 November
00:15
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-8 A8 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Navy
APL / NRL Suborbital Cosmic Radiation / Solar X-Ray 2 November Successful
Apogee: 90.9 kilometres (56.5 mi)[17]: 268–269 
3 November Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 3 November Successful[26]
4 November Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 4 November Successful[26]
5 November Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 5 November Successful
Last of nine launches in the first test series[26]
18 November
22:35
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 44 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
GE Suborbital Ramjet research / Aeronomy / Solar X-Ray / Biological 18 November Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 145 kilometres (90 mi), carried seeds and tested a Hermes B-1 ramjet diffuser in place of the warhead[14][17]: 420–421 
9 December
16:08
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 42 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
USASC Suborbital Aeronomy / Solar X-Ray / Biological 9 December Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 108 kilometres (67 mi), carried seeds[14][17]: 416–417 
9 December
22:38
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-1 SC 1 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Army
USASC / University of Michigan Suborbital Aeronomy 9 December Successful
Apogee: 91.6 kilometres (56.9 mi), maiden flight of the XASR-SC-1[17]: 188–189 

1949

1949 launches
Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
14 January
20:26
Nazi GermanyV-2 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesUS Army
United StatesHermes II US Army Suborbital Missile test 14 January Launch failure
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 1 kilometre (0.62 mi)[27]
28 January
17:20
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 45 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
NRL Suborbital Aeronomy / Cosmic Radiation / Solar Radiation / Ionospheric / Photography / Biological 28 January Launch failure
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 60 kilometres (37 mi), carried seeds. Poor propulsion and control, fuel cutoff triggered at 56.4 seconds.[14][17]: 423–424 
29 January
06:17
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-8 NRL 2 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Navy
NRL Suborbital Cosmic Radiation / Aeronomy / Ionospheric / Solar X-Ray 29 January Successful
Apogee: 97 kilometres (60 mi)[17]: 295–296 
1 February
18:38
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-8 NRL 3 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Navy
NRL Suborbital Solar UV / Solar X-Ray 1 February Launch failure
Apogee: 0 kilometres (0 mi), booster exploded at ignition[17]: 297 
17 February
17:00
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 48 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
APL Suborbital Aeronomy / Cosmic Radiation / Solar UV / Photography / Biological 17 February Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 127 kilometres (79 mi), carried fruit flies[14][17]: 431–432 
24 February
22:14
Nazi GermanyUnited StatesBumper United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesBumper 5 GE Suborbital Aeronomy 24 February Successful
Apogee: 393 kilometres (244 mi). The new altitude record.[25]
2 March
00:15
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-8 A9 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Navy
APL Suborbital Test for shipboard launch 2 March Successful
Dummy firing to evaluate shipboard launching procedures[17]: 270 
17 March
23:20
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-8 A10 United StatesUSS Norton Sound, Pacific Ocean near South America United StatesUS Navy
APL Suborbital Ionospheric 17 March Successful
Apogee: 105 kilometres (65 mi)[28][17]: 271–272 
22 March
06:43
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 41 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesBlossom IVA AMC Suborbital Aeronomy / Solar X-Ray / Imaging / Ionospheric 22 March Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 129 kilometres (80 mi)[14][17]: 413–415 
22 March
17:30
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-8 A11 United StatesUSS Norton Sound, Pacific Ocean near South America United StatesUS Navy
APL Suborbital Ionospheric 22 March Successful
Apogee: 105 kilometres (65 mi)[17]: 273–274 
24 March
15:14
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-8 A12 United StatesUSS Norton Sound, Pacific Ocean near South America United StatesUS Navy
APL Suborbital Cosmic Radiation 24 March Launch failure
Apogee: 6.0 kilometres (3.7 mi), pressure valve malfunction, booster separated on ignition[17]: 275 
11 April
22:05
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 50 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
USASC Suborbital Aeronomy / Solar X-Ray / Biological 11 April Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 85 kilometres (53 mi), carried seeds and bacteria[14][17]: 436–437 
22 April
00:17
Nazi GermanyUnited StatesBumper United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesBumper 6 GE Suborbital Solar / Aeronomy 22 April Launch failure
Apogee: 50 kilometres (31 mi)[25]
3 May
16:14
United StatesViking (first model) United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 – Army Launch Area 1 United StatesUS Navy
United StatesViking 1 NRL Suborbital Aeronomy / Imaging 3 May Partial launch failure
Apogee: 83 kilometres (52 mi)[6]: 236 [29]
5 May
15:15
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 46 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
GE Suborbital Technology development for GE / Solar Radiation 5 May Launch failure
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 8.77 kilometres (5.45 mi), carried a Hermes B-1 ramjet diffuser in place of the warhead. Premature cutoff at 25.5 seconds.[14][17]: 425–426 
7 May
03:12
Soviet UnionR-1A Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 7 May Successful
Apogee: 109 kilometres (68 mi), maiden flight of R-1A,[10] tested separable warhead
10 May
15:57
Soviet UnionR-1A Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 10 May Successful
Tested separable warhead[10]
15 May
02:48
Soviet UnionR-1A Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 15 May Successful
Tested separable warhead[10]
16 May
21:55
Soviet UnionR-1A Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 16 May Successful
Tested separable warhead[10]
24 May
01:40
Soviet UnionR-1A Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
Soviet UnionFIAR-1 NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test / Aeronomy 24 May Partial Failure
Vertical flight, tested separable warhead, carried aeronomy experiments that were not recovered[10]
28 May
01:50
Soviet UnionR-1A Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
Soviet UnionFIAR-1 NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test / Aeronomy 28 May Partial Failure
Final R-1A flight; vertical flight, tested separable warhead, carried aeronomy experiments damaged on landing and returned no usable data[10]
2 June
13:10
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-1 SC 2 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Army
USASC / University of Michigan Suborbital Aeronomy 2 June Successful
Apogee: 78.4 kilometres (48.7 mi)[17]: 190–191 
14 June
22:35
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 47 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesBlossom IVB AMC Suborbital Cosmic Radiation / Solar X-Ray / Aeronomy / Ionospheric / Biological 14 June Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 134 kilometres (83 mi), carried Albert II, the first mammal and monkey in space. Albert II died on impact after his capsule's parachute failed.[20][14][17]: 427–430 
15 June
02:03
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-8 NRL 5 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Navy
NRL Suborbital Ozone Spectroscopy / Solar X-Ray 15 June Successful
Apogee: 109 kilometres (68 mi)[17]: 300–301 
17 June
11:50
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-8 A13 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Navy
APL Suborbital Aerodynamics test 17 June Successful
Apogee: 88 kilometres (55 mi)[17]: 276 
23 June
23:21
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-8 A14 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Navy
APL / NRL Suborbital Cosmic Radiation / Solar X-Ray 23 June Successful
Apogee: 88 kilometres (55 mi)[17]: 277–278 
21 July
16:01
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-1 SC 4 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Army
USASC / University of Michigan / NRL Suborbital Solar X-Ray / Aeronomy 21 July Successful
Apogee: 76.1 kilometres (47.3 mi)[17]: 194–195 
6 September
16:57
United StatesViking (first model) United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 – Army Launch Area 1 United StatesUS Navy
United StatesViking 2 NRL Suborbital Aeronomy / Imaging 6 September Launch failure
Apogee: 51 kilometres (32 mi)[6]: 236 [29]
10 September Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 10 September Successful[26]
First flight of second series of tests
11 September Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 11 September Successful[26]
13 September Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 13 September Successful[26]
14 September Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 14 September Successful[26]
16 September
23:19
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 32 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesBlossom IVC AMC Suborbital Aeronomy / Ionospheric / Cosmic Radiation / Solar X-Ray / Biological 16 September Launch failure
Apogee: 4.2 kilometres (2.6 mi), carried Albert III. Rocket tumbled after two explosions in the tail section at 10.7 and 24.2 seconds.[14][17]: 391–393 
17 September Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 17 September Successful[26]
19 September Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 19 September Successful[26]
20 September Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 20 September Launch failure[26]
20 September
17:03
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-1 SC 5 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Army
USASC / University of Michigan / NRL Suborbital Aeronomy / Solar X-Ray 20 September Successful
Apogee: 58.6 kilometres (36.4 mi)[17]: 196–197 
23 September Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 23 September Launch failure[26]
25 September
11:16
Soviet UnionR-2E Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 25 September Successful
Maiden flight of R-2E, a modified R-1 missile to test R-2 concepts: integral fuel tank and separable warhead[30]
28 September Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 28 September Successful[26]
29 September
16:58
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 49 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
NRL Suborbital Aeronomy / Cosmic Radiation / Ionospheric / Meteoric Dust Collectors 29 September Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 151 kilometres (94 mi)[14][17]: 433–434 
30 September
11:49
Soviet UnionR-2E Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 30 September Successful[30]
2 October
11:00
Soviet UnionR-2E Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 2 October Partial failure
Fire in tail compartment[30]
3 October Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 3 October Successful[26]
6 October Nazi GermanyV-2 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesUS Army
United StatesHermes II US Army Suborbital Missile test 6 October Launch failure
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 4 kilometres (2.5 mi)[27]
8 October
06:05
Soviet UnionR-2E Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 8 October Successful[30]
8 October Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 8 October Successful[26]
10 October Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 10 October Successful[26]
11 October
12:45
Soviet UnionR-2E Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 11 October Partial failure
Fire in tail compartment, last of five R-2E launches[30]
12 October Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 12 October Successful[26]
13 October Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 13 October Successful[26]
13 October Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 13 October Successful[26]
15 October Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 15 October Successful[26]
18 October Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 18 October Successful[26]
19 October Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 19 October Successful[26]
22 October Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 22 October Successful[26]
23 October Soviet UnionR-1 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionNII-88 Section 3
NII-88 Section 3 Suborbital Missile test 23 October Successful[26]
Last of second series of twenty firings
18 November
16:03
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 56 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesGrenades USASC Suborbital Aeronomy / Cosmic Radiation 18 November Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 124 kilometres (77 mi)[14][17]: 450–451 
2 December
22:20
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 USAF 1 United StatesHolloman LC-A United StatesUS Air Force
AFCRL / Boston University / WADC Suborbital Solar X-Ray / Aeronomy / Imaging 2 December Successful
Apogee: 96.1 kilometres (59.7 mi), maiden flight of the RTV-A-1[17]: 46–47 
6 December
18:32
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-1 SC 3 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Army
USASC / University of Michigan Suborbital Aeronomy 6 December Successful
Apogee: 64.9 kilometres (40.3 mi)[17]: 192–193 
7 December
00:16
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-1 SC 7 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Army
USASC / University of Michigan Suborbital Aeronomy 7 December Successful
Apogee: 60.0 kilometres (37.3 mi)[17]: 200–201 
8 December
19:15
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 31 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesBlossom IVD AMC Suborbital Aeronomy / Ionospheric / Solar X-Ray / Biological 8 December Successful
Apogee: 127 kilometres (79 mi), carried Albert IV[14][17]: 388–390 
15 December
17:10
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 USAF 2 United StatesHolloman LC-A United StatesUS Air Force
AFCRL / University of Michigan Suborbital Solar X-Ray / Aeronomy 15 December Launch failure
Apogee: 0.3 kilometres (0.19 mi), exploded shortly after leaving tower[17]: 48–49 

1950

1950 launches
Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
Payload Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
Remarks
15 January
23:45
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-10 A15 United StatesUSS Norton Sound, Gulf of Alaska United StatesUS Navy
APL Suborbital Cosmic Radiation 15 January Successful
Ship-launched; Apogee: 72 kilometres (45 mi), maiden flight of the RTV-N-10[17]: 279–280 
18 January
23:17
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-10 A16 United StatesUSS Norton Sound, Pacific Ocean near the state of Washington United StatesUS Navy
APL Suborbital Cosmic Radiation 18 January Successful
Ship-launched; Apogee: 80 kilometres (50 mi)[17]: 281–282 
9 February
21:44
United StatesViking (first model) United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 – Army Launch Area 1 United StatesUS Navy
United StatesViking 3 NRL Suborbital Cosmic Radiation / Solar Radiation / Aeronomy / Imaging 9 February Launch failure
Veered off-course, failed to reach space, apogee: 80 kilometres (50 mi)[6]: 236 [29]
14 February
23:14
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-8 NRL 4 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Navy
NRL Suborbital Cosmic Radiation / Aeronomy 14 February Successful
Apogee: 87.5 kilometres (54.4 mi), final flight of the RTV-N-8[17]: 298–299 
17 February
18:00
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 53 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
NRL Suborbital Solar X-Ray / Cosmic Radiation / Aeronomy 17 February Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 148 kilometres (92 mi)[14][17]: 444–445 
22 February
00:54:30
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-1 SC 9 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Army
USASC / University of Michigan / NRL Suborbital Solar X-Ray / Aeronomy 22 February Successful
Apogee: 49.1 kilometres (30.5 mi)[17]: 204–205 
4 March
00:36
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-1 SC 6 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Army
United StatesGrenades USASC Suborbital Aeronomy 4 March Successful
Apogee: 72 kilometres (45 mi)[17]: 198–199 
14 March
20:43
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 USAF 3 United StatesHolloman LC-A United StatesUS Air Force
AFCRL / University of Rhode Island Suborbital Solar Radiation / Sky Brightness 14 March Launch failure
Apogee: 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi), premature fuel cutoff after 4.75 seconds.[17]: 50–51 
26 April
01:11
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-2 SC 11 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Army
USASC / University of Michigan Suborbital Aeronomy 26 April Successful
Apogee: 99.5 kilometres (61.8 mi), maiden flight of the XASR-SC-2[17]: 208–209 
12 May
03:08
United StatesViking (first model) United StatesUSS Norton Sound, Pacific Ocean, near Jarvis Island United StatesUS Navy
United StatesViking 4 NRL Suborbital Ionospheric / Aeronomy 12 May Successful
Apogee: 169 kilometres (105 mi)[6]: 236 [29]
12 May
12:30
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-10 A17 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Navy
APL Suborbital Cosmic Radiation 12 May Successful
Apogee: 88.1 kilometres (54.7 mi)[17]: 283–284 
26 May
19:43
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 USAF 4 United StatesHolloman LC-A United StatesUS Air Force
AFCRL / University of Rhode Island Suborbital Solar Radiation 26 May Successful
Apogee: 67 kilometres (42 mi)[17]: 52–53 
2 June
17:07
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 USAF 5 United StatesHolloman LC-A United StatesUS Air Force
AFCRL Suborbital Sky Brightness 2 June Partial launch failure
Apogee: 24.8 kilometres (15.4 mi), nose cone broke off at 2.8 seconds and rocket continued flying without nose. Some telemetry received and instruments operated satisfactorally, but experiments returned no data due to short flight duration.[17]: 54–55 
20 June
15:38
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 USAF 6 United StatesHolloman LC-A United StatesUS Air Force
AFCRL / University of Michigan Suborbital Aeronomy 20 June Successful
Apogee: 92.5 kilometres (57.5 mi)[17]: 56–57 
14 July
08:39
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-1 SC 8 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Army
United StatesGrenades USASC Suborbital Aeronomy 14 July Successful
Apogee: 69 kilometres (43 mi)[17]: 202–203 
24 July
14:29
Nazi GermanyUnited StatesBumper United StatesCape Canaveral LC-3 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesBumper 8 GE Suborbital Low angle speed test 24 July Launch failure
First missile launch from Cape Canaveral; apogee: 20 kilometres (12 mi)[25]
29 July
11:25
Nazi GermanyUnited StatesBumper United StatesCape Canaveral LC-3 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesBumper 7 GE Suborbital Low angle speed test 29 July Successful
Apogee: 35.2 kilometres (21.9 mi)[25]
3 August
23:52
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-10 NRL 6 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Navy
NRL Suborbital Sunfollower Spectroscopy / Solar X-Ray 3 August Launch failure
Apogee: 5.6 kilometres (3.5 mi), fuel line rupture caused sustainer to produce no useful thrust[17]: 302 
17 August
15:45
United StatesAerobee RTV-N-10 A18 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Navy
APL Suborbital Aeronomy 17 August Successful
Apogee: 101 kilometres (63 mi)[17]: 285–286 
31 August
17:09
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 51 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
United StatesBlossom IVG AMC Suborbital Solar X-Ray / Aeronomy / Ionospheric / Sky Brightness / Biological 31 August Successful
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 137 kilometres (85 mi), carried a mouse which did not survive due to a parachute failure[14][17]: 438–440 
1 October Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 October Partial failure
Maiden flight of the R-2 prototype missile; missed target[31]
1 October Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 October Partial failure
Missed target[31]
12 October
19:36
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 USAF 7 United StatesHolloman LC-A United StatesUS Air Force
AFCRL / WADC / Boston University Suborbital Photography / Temperature 12 October Successful
Apogee: 91.2 kilometres (56.7 mi)[17]: 58–59 
17 October
04:00
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-2 SC 10 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Army
United StatesGrenades USASC Suborbital Aeronomy 17 October Successful
Apogee: 80 kilometres (50 mi)[17]: 206–207 
18 October
04:30
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-2 SC 12 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Army
United StatesGrenades USASC Suborbital Aeronomy 18 October Successful
Apogee: 85.6 kilometres (53.2 mi)[17]: 210–211 
21 October Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 21 October Partial Failure
Missed target[31]
26 October
23:02
Nazi GermanyV-2 V-2 No. 61 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesGE / US Army
Ballistic Research Laboratory Suborbital Technology development 26 October Partial failure
Project Hermes launch: 8.1 kilometres (5.0 mi), rocket exploded at 50 seconds, but experiment still considered successful.[14][17]: 460–462 
27 October
13:30
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-2 SC 13 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Army
USASC / University of Michigan Suborbital Aeronomy 27 October Successful
Apogee: 80.1 kilometres (49.8 mi)[17]: 212–213 
1 November Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 November Partial failure
Missed target[31]
1 November Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 November Partial failure
Missed target[31]
1 November Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 November Partial failure
Missed target[31]
1 November Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 November Partial failure
Missed target[31]
1 November Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 November Partial failure
Missed target[31]
2 November
16:29
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 USAF 8 United StatesHolloman LC-A United StatesUS Air Force
AFCRL / University of Colorado / University of Denver Suborbital Airglow 2 November Successful
Apogee: 92 kilometres (57 mi)[17]: 60–61 
9 November Nazi GermanyV-2 United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 United StatesUS Army
United StatesHermes II US Army Suborbital Missile test 9 November Partial Failure
Project Hermes launch, apogee: 150 kilometres (93 mi), final flight of the Hermes II[32]
21 November
17:18
United StatesViking (first model) United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 – Army Launch Area 1 United StatesUS Navy
United StatesViking 5 NRL Suborbital Ionospheric / Solar Radiation / Aeronomy 21 November Successful
Apogee: 174 kilometres (108 mi)[6]: 236 [29]
1 December Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 December Partial failure
Missed target[31]
1 December Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 December Partial failure
Missed target[31]
1 December Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 1 December Partial failure
Missed target[31]
11 December
17:04
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-2 SC 15 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Army
USASC / University of Michigan Suborbital Aeronomy 11 December Launch failure
Apogee: 0.3 kilometres (0.19 mi)[17]: 216 
12 December
04:06
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-2 SC 14 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Army
United StatesGrenades USASC Suborbital Aeronomy 12 December Successful
Apogee: 83.8 kilometres (52.1 mi)[17]: 214–215 
12 December
07:04
United StatesViking (first model) United StatesWhite Sands LC-33 – Army Launch Area 1 United StatesUS Navy
United StatesViking 6 NRL Suborbital Aeronomy / Solar Radiation / Ionospheric 12 December Launch failure
Apogee: 64 kilometres (40 mi)[6]: 236 [29]
12 December
09:10
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-2 SC 16 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Army
United StatesGrenades USASC Suborbital Aeronomy 12 December Successful
Apogee: 77.7 kilometres (48.3 mi)[17]: 217–218 
12 December
18:26
United StatesAerobee RTV-A-1 USAF 9 United StatesHolloman LC-A United StatesUS Air Force
AFCRL / University of Michigan Suborbital Aeronomy 12 December Successful
Apogee: 106 kilometres (66 mi)[17]: 62–63 
19 December
18:52
United StatesAerobee XASR-SC-2 SC 17 United StatesWhite Sands LC-35 United StatesUS Army
USASC / University of Michigan Suborbital Aeronomy 19 December Successful
Apogee: 81.9 kilometres (50.9 mi)[17]: 219–220 
20 December Soviet UnionR-2 Soviet UnionKapustin Yar Soviet UnionOKB-1
OKB-1 Suborbital Missile test 20 December Partial failure
Final flight of 12 mission prototype series; missed target[31]

Suborbital launch summary (1945–1950)

By country

United Kingdom: 3United States: 120Soviet Union: 64
Launches by country
Country Launches Successes Failures Partial
failures
 United Kingdom 3 2 0 1
 United States 120 84 32 4
 Soviet Union 64 38 7 19

By rocket

16
32
48
64
80
V-2
Bumper
Viking
Aerobee
R-1
R-2