CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Seventy years ago, on July 24, 1950, the very first rocket blasted off from Brevard County, further ushering in America's quest for reaching for the stars.
But there was a period of time when Brevard's Space Coast might have never come to be.
What You Need To Know
- Bumper 8 took off from Cape Canaveral on July 24, 1950
- The flight lasted just 2 minutes
- Previous Bumper flights had taken off from New Mexico
- California originally was to be the new missile test range
At 9:28 a-m, July 24th, 1950, a V-2 rocket known as Bumper 8 lifted off the newly completed Launch Complex 3 at Long Range Proving Ground Base on Cape Canaveral. It was a history-making moment that set the tone for an area that would become the premiere launch area of the United States and Florida.
"Some 60 feet tall, about 5-1/2 feet in diameter, with fins on it," according to John Hilliard, a volunteer with Sands Space History Center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station whose family moved to the area in 1953. "Basically the bottle rocket of today's technology."
Despite just a 2-minute, 200-mile downrange flight, Bumper 8 cemented itself in space lore, with the first launch from the Atlantic coast.
It was not the first such launch attempt, though. Previous Bumpers were tested in White Sands, New Mexico.
The government wanted to find a new missile range for testing in California, but the Mexican government wouldn't permit flight ground stations in its country.
"So U.S. space pioneers went to the second choice, which is here [Brevard County]," Hilliard said.
Had that move not happened, the Cape would have lost seven decades of Space Coast launches.
So as crewed missions resume, continue exploring the universe with probes, and land rovers on places like Mars, Floridians can look back to Bumper 8's history-making flight so many years ago.
That flight and others came after World War II, when the United States captured German V-2 missiles and some of the original V-2 team members, leading to the development of America’s own rockets into the high tech ones of today.