Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bumper to Bumper

Bumper 7 on the pad at Launch Complex 3 on July 28, 1950.

What was the first rocket launched at Cape Canaveral?

That was Bumper 8 on July 24, 1950. The Bumper program began in White Sands, New Mexico. It was a German V-2 rocket with a WAC Corporal missile atop. Six Bumpers were launched in White Sands, then the program moved to Cape Canaveral for the last two launches.

Bumper 7 was scheduled to launch first, on July 19, but flamed out on the pad. It was returned to Hangar C for repair, and replaced by Bumper 8. After Bumper 8 launched on July 24, Bumper 7 returned to the pad and launched on July 29.

If you visit the Air Force Space and Missile History Center, you'll find the LC-3 exhibit has a video display running old films of the Bumper launches at the Cape. The color films are in fairly poor condition, turned pink from their age. I volunteered to attempt repairing them using Adobe Premiere.

Click here to see a side-by-side example of the film repair. You'll see on the left the "pink" tint caused by the aging of the film's chemicals. On the right is how it looked after using Premiere.

Eight clips were repaired. Click here to see all eight Bumper films. It runs about 13 minutes. The first two clips have sound, the rest do not. Given the age and condition of the films, some repairs were more successful than others.

Launch Complex 3 still exists, although it was abandoned long ago. Click here to view a blog I wrote on October 25 with photos of LC-3 as it appears today.


  1. Are you planning to put these on YouTube?

  2. Thanks for the suggestion, but they're not mine to post on YouTube. They belong to the Museum/History Center.