The scientific tourist #227 — X-8C Aerobee

Coming to you from the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamagordo, New Mexico — it’s the X-8C Aerobee:

X-8C Aerobee

The X-8 was an unguided, spin-stabilized, liquid-propellant sounding rocket with a solid-fuel booster (just the upper stage is on display here). Originally designed to launch a 150 lb (68 kg) payload to 200,000 feet (61 km), later models carried up to 300 lb (136 kg) and reached a maximum altitude of 138 miles (222 km).

The X-8 rocket in a number of variants was an integral part of the United States Air Force’s “Program for Geophysical Research and Development,” and “Upper Air Research Vehicles,” in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. A dizzying array of its descendant Aerobee rocket variants took things even further. On May 21, 1952, one of the Aerobees was the first rocket to successfully launch monkeys and mice into space and return them safely.

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