Saturday, September 20, 2014

Retro Saturday: Atlas Project Film Report

Click the arrow to watch the film. Video source: Jeff Quitney YouTube channel.

This week's Retro Saturday looks at the first test flight of the Atlas Intercontinental Ballistic Missile from Cape Canaveral on June 11, 1957 on Pad 14.

As you'll see in the 13½ minute film, it doesn't go well.

At the same time as the U.S. was developing its first ICBM, the Soviet Union was testing its R-7 Semyorka ICBM at Baikonur. Its first test in May 1957 failed, but the R-7 successfully flew for the first time during a test on August 21, 1957. The R-7 was used to launch Sputnik 1, the world's first artificial satellite, on October 4, 1957.

The successful R-7 launches led to political accusations that the United States trailed the Soviet Union in rocket technology. Those accusations resulted in Congressional hearings which eventually led to the creation of NASA in 1958.

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