|Space Launch Report
|Home On the Pad Space Logs Library Links|
|ARTIFACTS AT CAPE CANAVERAL'S U.S. AIR FORCE SPACE AND MISSILE MUSEUM
This Redstone missile, provided to the Museum by the U.S. Army during the 1960s, stands within the refurbished mobile service tower on Pad 26B, the southernmost of two pads at Launch Complex 26. From adjacent Pad 26A, the U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) launched Explorer 1, America's first artifical earth orbiting satellite, on January 31, 1958. This Redstone is marked as "RS-XH", which stood for "Redstone-01" according Redstone Arsenal's "HUNTSVILLE-X = 1234567889-0" code. It is not actually Redstone No. 1. The real Redstone No. 1 was launched from Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 4 on 20 August 1953. Launch Complex 26 was primarily constructed to support Jupiter test launches. Most Redstones actually flew from Launch Complexes 4 and 5/6.
You'll be hard pressed to find a more diverse collection of early space-age and cold-war missile artifacts than that held by the U.S. Air Force Space Musuem, located at Launch Complex 26, Cape Canaveral, Florida. The relative few who visit the museum are able to step quietly through blast doors into the blockhouse used to launch Explorer 1, America's first satellite, on 31 January 1958.
Some original ground support equipment is still within. Displayed photographs reveal that Von Braun, and others spent time in the building, which appears to hardly have been altered since. Although it was not originally used at Launch Complex 26, a special treat on the "Pad B" side of the blockhouse is an ancient, massive Burroughs computer used as the ground guidance system for early Atlas shots.
The Museum has an outdoor rocket garden, which includes a Redstone erected on Pad 26B within a refurbished gantry, and an exhibit building that houses a real V2 engine, among other artifacts. A U.S. Air Force Thor-Able stands on Pad 26A. Regrettably, the pad is not identified as the actual Explorer 1 launch site.
Launch Complex 5 and 6, just south of Complex 26, has also been preserved as part of the museum site. Complex 5, the southernmost pad, was the launch site of NASA's Mercury Redstone missions in 1960-61. Complex 5/6, comprising a blockhouse and two flat pads, was built by the Army in 1955 to support Redstone test flights. Nearly-identical Complex 26 was completed in 1957 to support Jupiter missile development.
The four launch pads at the two adjacent launch complexes were linked with interconnecting double-track railroads, upon which eventually rode three interesting mobile service towers. The towers had four moveable enclosed work levels, to accommodate missiles of varying size. Each tower was topped by a mobile hoist. The towers all faced the same direction, approaching the launch pads from the south. The four pads were used almost interchangeably. Jupiter missiles flew from all four pads, but Redstones and their Jupiter-C (Juno 1) cousins only flew from LC 5, LC 6, and LC26A. Juno 2, the space launcher derived from Jupiter, launched several NASA Explorer spacecraft from LC 5 and LC26B.
Typically, two of the towers stayed at LC 5 and LC6, while one served both pads at LC26. . The Pad 5 tower was an A-frame that may have been moved from LC4. The Pad 6 tower was an H-frame. The Pad 26 tower was an A-frame that had a more robust appearance than the LC5 tower. Today, only the LC26 tower survives and the interconnecting railroad tracks were removed long ago.
The following photos, taken mostly during late 1997 and early 1998, show a few of the museum's rocket garden artifacts. This gem of a museum is run by volunteers and is mostly self-funded. As you'll see, the museum must fight a continuous battle with the corrosive ocean air, and must do so with limited funds. I encourage anyone so inclined to offer support, financial or otherwise, to the non-profit musuem.
After getting Redstone into production, Von Braun and his ABMA staff developed Jupiter, America's first intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM). Jupiter's squat profile was necessitated by its original, never implemented mission. Jupiter was to have been carried, and launched if necessary, by the U.S. Navy's new nuclear submarine fleet. Rapid advances in solid rocket motor technology quickly made the missile obsolete, but ABMA was authorized to proceed with a land-based Jupiter that was briefly deployed in Turkey during the early 1960s (a deployment that may have helped to foster the Cuban Missile Crises). The evolving missile command structure of the day led to a U.S. Army agency doing development work for both the Navy and the Air Force. In the end, neither branch really wanted Jupiter.
Nontheless, ABMA rapidly got Jupiter to the launch pad, and, after two failures, scored the first IRBM success on 1957 May 31, when Jupiter AM-1 flew 1,247 nautical miles down the Atlantic Missile Range from LC5. Jupiters continued to fly for several years, until Jupiter CTL-106 performed the last launch from the Army complex, rising from LC 26A on 1963 January 22.
A Thor IRBM, complete with mobile launcher, is parked next to Pad 26B. Thor, developed by Douglas for the Air Force, was America's second IRBM. It shared the same basic, 150,000 pound thrust Navaho-derived Rocketdyne engine used by Jupiter. The missile was successfully deployed in Great Britain until the mid-1960s. In the end, however, Thor was most extensively used as a space launcher, with Able, Able-Star, Agena, Altair, Burner, and Delta upper stages. The basic powerplant and aft structure is still used by Boeing's Delta 2 and Delta 3 space launchers today.
The Museum is home to the only remaining XSM-64 (or G26) intermediate-range Navaho supersonic cruise missile. The North American Aviation-produced Navaho is not currently on display, having been removed from the rocket garden for refurbishment. Eleven G26 Navahos were launched from Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 9 during the 1956-58 period. None completed fully successful test flights. The first G26, launched 6 November 1956, was likely the heaviest man-made machine to lift vertically from the earth up to that time, since it preceeded the Soviet's R-7 ICBM tests.
See our Navaho Page for more information.
The G26 booster was the first to use Rocketdyne's powerful, new generation rocket engines. Its two 120,000 pound thrust engines burned liquid oxygen and alcohol for about 70 seconds to boost the missile beyond Mach 2.5, allowing ramjet startup. The G26 booster used "old-fashioned" steering vanes, rather than gimballed motors, for directional control. The Museum's example is likely composed of hardware from a G26 that was cannibilized for parts during project RISE.
The Museum also holds the only known remnant of the Navaho XSM-64A (or G38) intercontinental range supersonic cruise missile project. This three-chambered powerplant was designed, and extensively tested, for the never-flown G38. The 3x135,000 pound (405,000 pound total) thrust engine, an upgrade of the G26 engine, burned LOX and kerosene. Its thrust chambers were designed to gimbal to provide directional control. Navaho engines were later upgraded to 150,000 pounds thrust for use on the Atlas, Thor, and Jupiter ballistic missile programs. In the process, the engine nozzle went from a cone to a bell shape. The same basic design has evolved into today's 200,000+ pound thrust engine used in the RS-27A Delta and MA-5A Atlas powerplants.
After the U.S. Government cancelled Navaho on 12 July 1957, most completed or partially completed G38 hardware was scrapped at NAA's Downey plant. How this G38 engine survived is uncertain.
The Musuem's Titan 1 is displayed horizontally, with its 10 foot diameter first stage, 8 foot diameter second stage, and Avco Mk 4 reentry vehicle separated. Part of Thor/Delta Pad 17A tower is visible in the background.
Closeup of holes corroded through Titan 1 first stage oxidizer tank at USAF Cape Canaveral Space Museum (Click on photo for larger image). As this December 1997 photo illustrates, the corrosive oceanside environment is tough on relics of the early space age. Space Musuem volunteers have, so far, managed to keep most of their artifacts in decent shape.
This photo of engines on the Titan 1 at USAF Cape Canaveral Space Museum (Click on photo for larger image) clearly shows how the engine thrust frame attaches to four tank panel longerons at the base of the vehicle.
Photo of Atlas E at USAF Cape
Canaveral Space Museum (Click on photo for larger image). This Atlas is so unaltered, it
must still be pressurized to keep its tanks from buckling! Unfortunately, the missile has
"sprung" a few leaks over the years, and the Musuem is thinking about adding
internal bracing, or possibly filling the tanks with some type of expanding foam.
Last Update: 2000 February 18