This Day in History: Little Joe 1A Launch (November 4th, 1959)

By: Sean Sporman
By: Sean Sporman

It was an early test to make way for the first American space, but this early Project Mercury launch was only a partial success.

The Little Joe was a small test rocket used in the Mercury Program which was to launch the first American men into space. It was shorter than the full launch vehicles and fueled by solid fuels instead of liquid.

Little Joe 1A carried a boilerplate mock-up of the Mercury spacecraft. The goal of the November 4th, 1959 launch was to test the escape system under maximum stress. The escape system would carry the manned capsule away from the rocket in the event of a catastrophic failure.

The launch of Little Joe 1A was a success, but the ideal test conditions were not met. Later Little Joe launches, some of which carried monkeys as passengers, were more successful.

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