Space Medicine Chronology


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Space Medicine Chronology

The history of space medicine and the history of the Space Medicine Association are both so closely integrated with the history of space exploration that they cannot be discussed separately. Below is a time line integrating the various histories and yet allowing them to still be viewed separately as needed. The significant space medicine related publications from the journal of Aviation Space and Environmental Medicine (formerly the Journal of Aviation Medicine and the Journal of Aerospace Medicine) are included as down-linked files as well as previously published "Classics in Space Medicine" articles that discussed several of those papers and their historical significance. Links to photos, videos, and documents are also embedded.

The orbital launch manifest list for 1957-1961 is linked at the beginning of 1957. All launch attempts to orbit from 1957-1961 (whether successful or not) are listed in the timeline. Only more significant launch events are listed after 1961, although the complete orbital launch manifest list for 1957-2010 is also linked at the beginning of 1957. In addition, at the beginning of each year, starting in 1958, the orbital launch manifest list for that year is listed.

A summary of space exploration events leading up to Sputnik can be read at:

Intro Hale Lowell 1.pdf, pages 1-21.

Font Key:

Historical events concerning space exploration.

Significant world historical events and significant events in non-space exploration.

Space Medicine Association events and events concerning the early organization

of the Space Medicine Association.

Space medicine events.

Astronaut selection and training information (compiled by Dr. John Charles).

Published space medicine papers from the Journal of Aviation Medicine (later the Journal

of Aerospace Medicine and the Aviation Space and Environmental Medicine).

Clicking on the bold underlined file will produce the article. Clicking on the bold,

underlined “Classics of Medicine” file will bring up a published article which will discuss the historical significance of the paper.

Jules Verne published From the Earth to the Moon”. In 1873, the second part, “Around the Moon” was published. He described weightlessness, although the explanation of the physics was incorrect. Parallels to the Apollo Project include a three man spacecraft, the correct Earth escape velocity, the correct time en-route, circumlunar flight, a Florida launch, and an ocean recovery.

From the Earth to the Moon.jpg
Edward Everett Hale published “The Brick Moon” which discussed a heat-resistant, manned, communications, reconnaissance, and navigational satellite.

"The Brick Moon" can be read at:

Intro Hale Lowell 2.pdf, pages 23-54.
Giovanni Schiaparelli described "canali" that he observed by telescope on the surface of Mars.
Tsiolkovsky published “Free Space” which described weightlessness during space flight.

Percival Lowell in Flagstaff, Arizona established the Lowell Observatory. He observes what he believes to be canals on Mars, which he concludes were made by intelligent beings. Percival Lowell would publish three books, “Mars” (1895), “Mars and Its Canals” (1906), and “Mars As the Abode of Life” (1908) – all expounding the idea of intelligent life on Mars.


Llowell telescope.jpg

Lowell Mars channels.jpg

Red Planet Mars (1952) and Percival Lowell.mp4

An excerpt from "Mars" can be read at:

Intro Hale Lowell 3.pdf, pages55-58.
H. G. Wells, inspired by the writings of Percival Lowell, publishes the “The War of the Worlds”.

H G Wells 1922.jpg

Illustration in War of the Worlds.jpg
October 19: While sitting in a tree, 17 year-old Robert Goddard had a life changing experience after reading “From the Earth to the Moon” and “The War of the Worlds”. He immediately dedicated himself to inventing a rocket to that would reach Mars. Over the next several years, he attended a series of lectures given by Percival Lowell.


The Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reaction Devices” (Исследование мировых пространств реактивными приборами) by Tsiolkovsky was printed. Tsiolkovsky calculated that the horizontal speed required for a minimal orbit around the Earth is 8,000 m/s (5 miles per second) and that this could be best achieved by means of a multistage rocket fueled by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. Among his later works were designs for rockets with steering thrusters, multi-stage boosters, space stations, airlocks for exiting a spaceship into the vacuum of space, and closed cycle biological systems to provide food and oxygen for space colonies. He also described Earth orbital escape velocity.

The Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reaction Devices” can be read at Tsiolkovsky Oberth Goddard 1.pdf, pages 59-83.

December 17: Wilbur and Orville Wright made the first powered manned flight at Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Wright Flight.jpg
A German engineer, Alfred Maul, took the first aerial photo with a black powder rocket camera at an altitude of 600 m (2000 ft.).

Maul Rocket.jpg

Maul Photo 1904.jpg
At the age of 11 years-old, Oberth became fascinated with spaceflight after reading “From the Earth to the Moon and “Around the Moon”.
Oberth constructed his first model rocket at the age of 14.
April 6: Robert Peary is the first to reach the North Pole.

December 14: Roald Amundsen is the first to reach the South Pole.

January 17: Robert Scott reaches the South Pole, 34 days after Amundsen, but perishes on the return trip.

April 15: Sinking of the Titantic.
August 1: Beginning of World War I which would last until November 1918.

January 14: Robert Goddard writes "The Ultimate Migration", a fiction describing the exodus of human civilization from a dying solar system on-board a nulear powered colony. It was not published until 1972.

October 25: Bolshevik revolution in Russia.
The Smithsonian Institution published the paper, “A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes” by Robert H. Goddard. Although mostly a technical paper, it proposed building a rocket that would reach the Moon. It was ridiculed by the popular press (New York Times) and resulted in Goddard becoming extremely secretive and reclusive for the rest of his life. It also led to large amount of funding for the next 20 years by the Smithsonian and the Guggenheim Foundation.

Goddard Chronology.doc


Robert Goddard Biography.flv

A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes” can be read at

Tsiolkovsky Oberth Goddard 2.pdf, pages 86-132.

The New York Times article can be read at:

Goddard Colliers 1.pdf, page 133.
March 1: The Soviet Union established the Moscow based Gas Dynamics Laboratory (GDL) for work on liquid fueled rockets (not formally named until 1928). The first director is Nikolai Tikhomirov. Valentin Glushko joined in 1929. By 1932 it had a staff of 200 people. Beginning in 1925 it occupied the Peter and Paul Fortress in Leningrad.
Directors of the GDL:

Nikolai Tikhomirov -- 1921-1930

Boris Petropavlovskiy -- 1930-1931

Nikolai Illyin -- 1931-1932

Ivan Kleimenov -- 1932-1933

Departments of the GDL:






G. E. Langemak


Rocket powered shells (RS)


V. P. Glushko


Liquid fuel and electrical rocket engines


V. I. Dudakov


Aircraft-launched solid-propellant missiles


I. I. Kulagin


Development of the powder-fuel charges for RS


N. A. Dorovlev


Rocket-propelled grenades/mines development


E. S. Petrov







Peter and Paul Fortress Gas Dynamics Laboratory.jpg

Glushko at 25.jpg
Hermann Oberth wrote “By Rocket into Interplanetary Space” (Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen), a technical paper similar to Goddard’s, but derived independently.


Oberth Chronology.doc

By Rocket into Interplanetary Space” can be read at:

Tsiolkovsky Oberth Goddard 3.pdf, pages 84-85.
Friedrich A. Tsander published "Exploration of Outer Space and Problems of Flight by Means of Reactive Devices" in the Soviet Union (other sources give this date as September 1932).
Luigi Gussalli in Italy published, "Can We Attempt a Space Journey to the Moon".
June 20: Friedrich A. Tsander, Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky, and Felix E. Dzherzhinsky started the Society for Studying Interplanetary Travel in the Soviet Union.
June 8: Sir George Leigh-Mallory and Andrew Irvine vanish near the summit of Mt. Everest.

George Leigh-Mallory.jpg

Mallory Irvine.jpg

Mallory and Irvine North Col 060624.jpg

Max Valier published, "The Advance into Space" in Germany. This was republished in an expanded form in 1930 as "Rocket Flight".

Walter Hohmann published, "The Attainability of Celestial Bodies" in Germany which described interpanetary transfer orbits.

May 9: U.S. Navy Adm. Richard Byrd was the first to fly over the North Pole in a Fokker F-VII Tri-motor airplane (later disputed).

March 16: The first liquid-fueled rocket flight, burning liquid oxygen and gasoline was launched at Auburn, Mass. by Robert H. Goddard. It traveled 184 feet with an altitude of 41 ft at 60 miles per hour.

Goddard Rocket 1.jpg

Goddard Rocket 2.jpg

Goddard Rocket Engine 1925.jpg
June 5: The Verein fur Raumschiffahrt (VfR), or the “Society for Spaceflight”, was founded by Johannes Winkler, Max Valier, and Willy Ley at Breslau, Germany. One of the first members was Hermann Oberth, who was later the President. Werner von Braun joined in 1930. Eugene Sanger was also another early member. It eventually had a membership of 870 and produced a journal, "The Rocket".

VfR The Rocket 0127.jpg
Yuri Kondratyuk publishes "The Conquest of Interplanetary Space" which discussed orbital effects including gravitational slingshot.

16 year-old Werner von Braun reads “By Rocket into Interplanetary Space” by Hermann Oberth. From then on he dedicated himself to physics and mathematics to pursue his interest in rocketry.

Dr. Hubertus Strughold presented a lecture “Aviation Medicine – The Verticle Frontier” at tche University of Wuerzburg in Germany describing the physiology of high altitude (space) flight.

Strughold 1929.jpg
Wiley Lee (a member of the VfR) published, "The Flight into Space" in Germany.
July 17: Robert H. Goddard launched a liquid fueled rocket, at Auburn, Mass., which carried a camera, thermometer, and a barometer, that were recovered intact (first scientific payload).

Goddard Mass 1929.jpg

Goddard Rocket Mass 1929 Fourth Flight.jpg
October 15: The premier was held of “Frau im Mond” (The Girl in the Moon), a movie with Hermann Oberth as the technical adviser.

Frau im Mond.jpg
Tsiolkovsky further described the construction of multistage rockets in his book, “Space Rocket Trains”. Other sources give this date as beginning in 1924.
Oberth conducted a static firing of his first liquid-fueled rocket motor, which he named the Kegeldüse. He was helped in this experiment by his students at the Technical University of Berlin, one of whom was Wernher von Braun.
Oberth expanded his work and published "The Roads to Spaceflight".

Hermann Noordung (Potocnik) published “The Problem of Spaceflight” (Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums - der Raketen-Motor) which described a large rotating, circular space station which generated artificial gravity. It also introduced the concept of a geosynchronous orbit at 22,294 miles.


Noordung space station.jpg
October 24: Wall street crash and the start of a world wide economic depression.
November 28: U.S. Navy Adm. Richard Byrd is the first to fly over the South Pole in a Ford Tri-motor airplane.
April 4: Formation of the American 1nterplanetary Society. It was founded by science fiction writers G. Edward Pendray, David Lasser, Laurence Manning and others. It was later renamed the American Rocket Society in 1934 and merged with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1963.
December 17: Captain Doctor Walter Dornberger was placed in charge of all German Army rocket studies.

December 30: Dr. Goddard launched a rocket to an altitude of 2000 feet, reaching a speed of 500 miles per hour. This was the first launching in New Mexico, and the rocket weighed 33.5 pounds. Some first developments 1926-1937 - rocket engine turbopumps, gyroscopic guidance, gimbaled motors, and rocket exhaust vanes. Highest altitude reached was 9000 ft (1937).

Summary of Dr. Goddard's most significant launches:

Goddard Launche List.doc
Valentin Glushko at the GDL developed the first Soviet liquid fueled rocket engine (ORM-1).

Glushko 2.jpg


Rockets engines developed by Glushko at GDL and later at the Jet Propulsion Scientific Research Institute (RNII) (However, Tsander at the GIRD developed the OR-1 and OR-2):




Statistics / Notes



Gasoline & Air

Thrust: 10 lbs.



toluene and nitrogen tetroxide


ORM-4 thru 23


toluene and nitrogen tetroxide




Gasoline & Liquid Oxygen

Thrust: 100 lbs.

ORM-24 thru 49


kerosene and nitric acid




kerosene and nitric acid

to power anti-aircraft missile



kerosene and nitric acid

Regenerative fuel cooling introduced

660 lbs thrust

ORM-53 thru 64


kerosene and nitric acid

high thrust research



kerosene and nitric acid

to power rocket planes


ORM-67 thru 70


kerosene and nitric acid




kerosene and tetranitromethane

new combination



kerosene and tetranitromethane


September 15: The Soviet Group for the Study of Reactive Motion (GIRD) in Moscow was established with Fridrikh Tsander as its first director. After his death, Sergei Korolev became director in 1933. Mikhail Tikhonarov was one of its section directors. Korolev worked mostly on rocket-propelled gliders.

GIRD Chronolgy.doc

Korolev Chronology.doc


Korolev 1934.jpg


Cheranovsky and Korolev.jpg
April: The Mirak (minimal rocket) II rocket (built by the VfR in Germany) developed 70 lbs of thrust in static firing before exploding. Fuel was gasoline and liquid oxygen and the nozzle was cooled by liquid oxygen.

Mirak Chronology.doc

Mirak II.jpg

Mirak 1931.jpg
May 14: The Repulsor-1, a liquid fueled rocket using gasoline and liquid oxygen, rose 200 ft and traveled 2.5 miles. This rocket was built by the VfR in Germany. The engine attempted to use water for regenerative cooling in the nozzle.
August 31: The Repulsor-4 (built by the VfR in Germany) was launched to an altitude of 3300 ft and landed with a parachute. Within the next year the VfR would conduct 270 static firings and 87 launches.
July: The first rocket demonstration by the VfR by Dr. Wernher von Braun and Capt. Dr. Walter Dornberger for the German Army was carried out with Repulsor-4, which flew to an altitude of 200 ft.

Repulsor Werhner von Braun.jpg

Repulsor Nozzle Smithsonian.jpg
October 1: Wernher von Braun hired by the German army and drops out of sight.

von Braun Chronology.doc

Werhner von Braun Military.jpg

Werner Von Braun.mp4

November 12: The American Rocket Society's Rocket No. 1 developed 60 lbs thrust in static testing.

Nikolai Rynin in the Soviet Union published "Interplanetary Space Flight", a detailed, 9-volume encyclopedia.
Valentin Glushko in the Soviet Union published "Problems of Rocket Flight".
May 14: The first American Rocket Society liquid fueled rocket (Rocket No. 2) was launched at Marine Park, Staten Island, N.Y., reaching 250 feet altitude before exploding.
American Rocket Society launches:


Launch Date



Launch Site












Stockton, NJ

damaged in static test, not flown





Great Kills, NY

LOX tank exploded











Marine Park, NY

did not fly





Marine Park, NY

landed in New York Bay





Old Ferris Point, NY


August 17: The first Soviet liquid fueled rocket (GIRD-09), developed at the GIRD, was successfully launched to an altitude of 1300 ft. This was their first successful launch. Developed by section directed by Tikhonorov.


GIRD-09 Launch 1933 Korolev.jpg
September 21: The GIRD and GDL combined to form the Moscow based Jet Propulsion Scientific Research Institute (RNII).
November 25: GIRD launches the GIRD-X to an altitude of 1600 ft (the first Soviet liquid fueled engine which used EtOH/LOX). Developed by section directed by Tsander.


GIRD-X 2.jpg

November: Successful firing at GIRD of the ORM-50 engine designed by Valentin Glushko for the never completed GIRD-05. The ORM-50 was the first successful regeneratively cooled rocket engine (Nitric acid/Kerosine).


ORM-50 2.jpg

Eugene Sanger in Germany published, “Rocket Flight Engineering”. He began working for the German Reich Aviation Ministry where he would, over the next 5 years, design the “Silverbird”, a sub-orbital lifting body powered by rockets and ramjets that would serve as a space plane, but could also to be used as a bomber (it was never funded).


Sanger space plane.jpg
January: The VfR in Germany was disbanded because of internal political disputes and lack of financial support.
April 16: Werhner von Braun submitted his doctorate thesis, “Construction, Theoretical, and Experimental Solution to the Problem of the Liquid Propellant Rocket”.

Werhner von Braun 1.jpg
September 5: Wiley Post successfully flies to 47,000 ft in Chicago using the first pressure suit This was designed by Russell M. Colley at B.F. Goodrich.

Wiley Post Suit.jpg
September 9: At Marine Park, Staten Island, American Rocket Society rocket (No. 4) became the first to pass the sonic barrier, reaching 700 miles per hour, climbing 400 feet and traveling 1,600 feet horizontally.
November: GIRD-07 launch directed by Tikhonorov using Kerosine/LOX using the OR-2 engine developed earlier by Tsander.


December: The German Army rocket development group fired the A-2 rocket (660 lb thrust) for a distance of 1.4 miles (altitude of 6500 ft), on the island of Borkum.


A-2 Launch.jpg
Jakov Perelman in the Soviet Union published "Interplanetary Travels".
January: Korolev publishes, "Rocket Flight in the Stratosphere".
November 11: Based upon designs by Auguste Piccard, the Army Air Corp balloon gondola Explorer II, manned by Capt. Albert Stevens and Lt. Orville Anderson, reaches 72,395 ft (an altitude record that would stand for 19 years). They take the first photographs that show the curvature of the Earth. This is the first operational sealed cabin.

Explorer II Gondola.jpg
Valentin Glushko (along with Langemak) published "Rockets, Their Construction and Utilization" in the Soviet Union.
Tsiolkovsky published, "On the Moon" in the Soviet Union that described interplanetary travel.

Tsiolkovsky On the Moon 1935.jpg
During 1935 (and continuing for the next 5 years), Dr. Goddard made multiple successful launches in New Mexico (see list in 1930).

Goddard 1935.jpg

Goddard Launch.jpg

Goddard Rocket Crash.jpg


Goddard 1940.jpg
February: The Germans tested the A-3 rocket with 3,300 pounds of thrust (a developmental model for later military rockets).


A3 1937.jpg

March 16: The Smithsonian Institution published Robert H. Goddard’s “Liquid Propellant Rocket Development”.

Liquid Propellant Rocket Development” can be read at:

Goddard Colliers 2.pdf, pages 134-139.

During the year, Dr. Theodore van Karman at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif., founded a group that began experiments in the design fundamentals of high altitude sounding rockets, and this led to the creation of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

von Karman.jpg

GALCIT Static Test Site 1936.jpg
May: The German Army rocket experiment station at Peenemunde was opened, under Capt. Dr. Walter Dornberger.

October: A. Shternfeld published "Introduction to Cosmonautics" in the USSR.
Successful launch of the Soviet GIRD developed Aviavnito rocket, which reached an altitude of 9800 ft. Mikhail Tikhonarov designed his rocket.

Most of the Soviet GIRD rocket development leaders were arrested and either executed or sent to the Gulag, including Tukhachevsky, Kleimenov, and Langemak. Valentin Glushko (03/23/38) and Sergei Korolev (06/07/38) were both arrested in 1938 and sent to the Gulag for seven years. They were accused of passing rocket technology to the Germans.
October: The German Army test rocket A-5, weighing 2000 pounds climbed 5 miles before burnout at Peenemunde.
September 1: Germany invades Poland beginning World War II.
The British Interplanetary Society publishes a study of a manned mission to the Moon.
December 7: Pearl Harbor is attacked, bringing the US into World War II.


June 13: The first launching attempt was made with the A-4 (V-2) rocket at Peenemunde. It reached an altitude of only 0.8 miles. The V-2 missile was 47 ft tall, weighed 28,000 pounds, had a range of 200 miles with a trajectory height of 60 miles, and a speed of 3300 mph at burnout. The engine generated 56,000 lb of thrust and burned LOX and EtOH.



German V2 Rocket Launch Failures.flv

1944 V2.flv

1944 V-2.mp4

V-2 Rocket.mp4

V-2 Rocket Facility At Peenemunde.mp4

German V-2 Launch List.txt
October 3: The third V-2 launched climbed 30 miles and traveled to a point 118 miles from Peenemunde, this was credited as the first successful flight. Gen. Dr. Walter Dornberger, after watching the launch, remarked “The age of spaceflight has arrived”.
May-June: The Germans conducted operational tests of the V-2 rocket by firing over 100 from Blizna against Sarnaki, Poland, including 10 launches on 1 day.
August 17: The British carried out a saturation air raid on the Peenemunde rocket development center in Germany.
November: Theodore von Karman of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) recommended to Army Ordnance the development of a long-range surface-to-surface missile.

March 15: Dr. Wernher von Braun was arrested by the S.S. for over-concentration on space travel rather than military missile problems. He was later released on the grounds that his services were indispensable.

June 13: The first V-1 missile was launched from the Pas de Calais to exploded in the center of London. The V-1 missile had a speed of 400 miles per hour and a range of

190 miles.

June: A V-2 missile from Peenemunde overshot the Baltic and landed in Sweden where the remains were collected and flown to England for analysis.
June: The first suborbital space flight by the international definition (greater than 100 km) occurred when a V-2 test rocket launched from Peenemunde in Germany reached 175 km (109 mi) altitude. Some records give the highest altitude V-2 flight as 189 km (117 miles) on September 14, 1944.
September 8: The first V-2 falls on Paris and London. From this time on until March 1945 when the launch sites were over-run by the Allies, 1,027 V-2’s were launched from the vicinity of The Hague, with 92.3 percent launched successfully. Of the total number fired from all sites toward Britain, there were about 1,300 fired at London and 40 at Norwich. 518 fell in the London Civil Defense Region, and none at Norwich. The results in London were 2,511 persons killed and 5,869 seriously wounded. 5200 V-2 s were produced and 3172 were successfully launched.
November 15: U.S. Army Ordnance began the Hermes program of research and development on ballistic missiles.

January 24: The Germans successfully launched a winged version of the V-2, the A-9, designed to be the upper stage of an ICBM for an ultimate attack on North America. It reached an altitude of 50 miles with a speed of 2,700 miles per hour.


A-4b (A-9) Summer 1944.jpg
February 20: The White Sands Proving Ground was established in New Mexico.

White Sands LC-35.jpg
May 8: Formal surrender of Germany.
July 4: The first test rocket was launched at the Auxiliary Flight Research Station, Wallops Island, Virginia.

Wallops Island.jpg
July 16: First atomic bomb detonated at the Trinity site in New Mexico.

July 23: Life magazine published detailed drawings of a large manned space station, including a large space mirror, as envisioned by the German scientists of Peenemunde.
August 6: Atomic bomb is dropped over Hiroshima.
August: Components for approximately 100 V-2 weapons were shipped from Germany to White Sands, New Mexico.
September 2: Formal surrender of Japan, ending World War II.
September 26: In the first development flight of an Army Wac-Corporal surface to surface missile, an altitude of 43.5 miles was reached. Aerojet developed this small rocket (700 pounds).

Wac Corporal.jpg

Wac Corporal 2.jpg

September: Over the next 6 months, 127 rocket scientists are brought over to the U.S. from Germany as part of Operation Paperclip, including Dr. Werner von Braun and Dr. Hubertus Strughold, to work on U.S. rocket development (initially temporarily, but most eventually obtained permanent U.S. citizenship). Among the leaders of the group who came to the USAF School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Field, Texas were Dr. Hubertus Strughold, Dr. Heinz Haber, Dr. Ulrich Luft, Dr. Fritz Haber, Dr. Hans-Georg Clamann, Dr. Konrad Buettner and Dr. Siegfried J. Gerathewohl. Dr. Otto Gauer, Dr. V. K. Henschke and others went to the Aeromedical Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Dr. Hermann Schaefer, Dr. D. Beischer and others went to the Naval School of Aviation Medicine at Pensacola, Florida.

Operation Paperclip.gif
September: A large number of German rocket engineers, including Helmut Grottrup, are deported to the USSR to work on rocket development.
January 26: The Army Air Force created the First Experimental Guided Missiles Group at Eglin Field, Fla.
January: The first missile was launched at the Naval Air Facility, Point Mugu, Calif. This was the Loon, which was patterned after the German V-1.

Loon Pt. Magu.gif
April 16: The first German V-2 in the U.S. was launched at White Sands, N.M. 71 V-2 launches would be carried out at White Sands with the last one on September 19, 1952. Success rate was 68%.

White Sands V-2.jpg

V-2 Launch White Sands.jpg

V-2 White Sands.wmv

US V-2 Launch List.txt

1946 V2 in US.mp4
April 19: The Army Air Force started Project MX-774 with Consolidated-Vultee to study rocket designs that would lead to an ICBM.


MX-774 pad.jpg

April 22: A contract was placed with North American Aviation to develop the Navaho winged rocket missile with a range up to 500 miles. In March 1948 this was redesigned as a ramjet propelled missile. It never reached operational status. The large liquid fueled rocket engine (XLR-43-NA-1) that was to boost it to ramjet speed later provided the basic engine used in the Thor, Jupiter, Atlas, and Saturn rockets.


May 10: The first suborbital U.S. V-2 flight achieved an altitude of 112.6 km (70.0 mi).
May 12: Project Rand presented its report to the Army Air Force entitled “Preliminary Design of an Experimental World-Circling Space Ship,” which described the technical feasibility of building and launching an artificial satellite. They stated, "A satellite vehicle with appropriate instrumentation can be expected to be one of the most potent scientific tools of the Twentieth Century".

Read the report at:

Rand.pdf, pages 236-244.
August 6: Two unmanned B-17 drones flew from Hilo, Hawaii to Muroc Air Base, California, demonstrating the possibility of accurate long-range guided missiles armed with atomic warheads.
October 24: March 20: The first photograph made at an altitude of 100 miles was made following a V-2 test at White Sands, N.M.

First Photo Space V-2 #13 102446.jpg

V-2 -#21 California 030747.jpg
December 17: A program of space biology was initiated at Holloman AFB, New Mexico by the National Institutes of Health.

History of Holloman AFB Space Biology .pdf
1946: Dr. Heinz Haber discussed the problems that were to be encountered with adaptation to weightlessness during space flight in a seminar at the USAF Aeromedical Center in Heidelberg, Germany.
During the year, the Signal Corps bounced radio signals against the Moon, proving that relatively low power could transmit signals over great distances.

During the year, the David Clark Company produced a partial pressure suit (T-1, S-1, S-2) for use in the X-1.

S-2 Partial Pressure Suit.jpg
January 23: A V-2 at White Sands carried telemetry successfully for the first time and climbed to an altitude of 31 miles.
February 20: For the first time, a V-2 at White Sands ejected a canister for parachute recovery of fruit flies and corn seeds exposed to cosmic rays, after a climb to 68 miles. Several subsequent V-2 flights carried additional biological samples, including moss.
May 27: The first Army Corporal E surface-to-surface rocket was launched.
July 1: The MX-774 contract with Convair to develop ballistic missiles was cancelled by the Army Air Force. However, the company decided to pursue the work with its own funds, ultimately leading to the Atlas ICBM.
September 6: A V-2 missile was fired from the deck of the USS Midway near Bermuda.

Midway V-2.jpg
September 22: A United States Air Force C-54 made an automatic flight across the Atlantic from Stephenville, Newfoundland to Brise Norton, England. The crew on board had absolutely nothing to do except to monitor the operation of the automatic guidance and flight system.

October 7: Based upon infrared spectroscopic studies performed at the McDonald Observatory in Texas, Gerard P. Kuiper determined that carbon dioxide was a major component of the Martian atmosphere with a pressure of 2 millibars (actually now known to be 6 millibars). Occultation studies indicated that the atmospheric pressure was 80 milibars (actually now known to be only 6 millibars) that would make it very thin (8% of Earth's, but now known to be 0.6% of Earth's). It was assumed that the rest of the atmosphere was composed of spectroscopically inert nitrogen and argon.

October 14: Capt. Chuck Yeager is the first to break the sound barrier. He passes Mach 1.06 (807.2 mph) in the Bell X-1 (powered by the XLR-11 engine with 5000 lbs thrust) on Flight #50 at Muroc Army Air Field (later Edwards AFB).

Bell X-1.jpg
October 18: The first Soviet V-2 was launched from Kapustin Yar.

Kasputin Yar V-2.jpg

Soviet V-2 Launch List.txt
November 24: The first complete Aerojet (developed by von Karman) Aerobee rocket was flown to a height of 37 miles at White Sands, New Mexico. It was an expansion of the Wac-Corporal. A large number - 1,037 of different variants of Aerobee launches were carried out with the last one on January 17, 1985.

Aerobee 2600-pound thrust, 150-pound payload, 60-mile altitude

Aerobee 100.jpg


Aerobee-Hi 4000-pound thrust, 150-pound payload, 150-mile altitude

In 1947: Dr. Vasily Parin was arrested by Stalin and imprisoned for the next five years. After Stalin's death in 1953, he was released and became the director of biomedical and medical research in charge of selection, training and monitoring of all cosmonauts. He was responsible for all medical aspects of the manned space flight programs of the USSR from 1956 until 1971. He was the Director of the Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) from 1965-69. He was also the founder and editor-in-chief or the USSR Journal of Space Biology and Medicine.



During the year, “German Aviation Medicine in World War II”, which was a summary of knowledge from the German aerospace medical community, was published by the USAAF and edited by Dr. Hubertus Strughold. It was authored by 56 aviation medical specialists and greatly advanced aerospace medicine. The first article ever published on space medicine was written in this book: “Man under Gravity Free Conditions” by Heinz Haber and O. Gauer.

Ref - Gauer O., Haber H.: Man under Gravity-Free Conditions. In: German Aviation Medicine World War II; Chapter VI, S. 641-4. US Department of the Air Force, U.S. Govt. Print. Office, Washington 1950.

January 15: Gen. H. S. Vandenberg, Vice Chief of Staff, USAF, approved a policy calling for the development of Earth satellites.
February 6: The Army achieved successful electronic guidance of a V-2 missile at White Sands, in a climb to an altitude of 70 miles.
May 13: The first Project Bumper shot was made at White Sands. This was a two-stage combination of a V-2 German rocket carrying a second stage American Wac-Corporal. On this flight an altitude of 79.1 miles was reached.

White Sands Bumper.jpg

June 11: Beginning on this date, several USAF Aeromedical Laboratory biomedical V-2 launches (the flight profile was 30 secs of 4-5 G followed by 150 secs of 0 G) were made from White Sands, New Mexico as summarized:

- June 11, 1948: A V-2 was launched at White Sands carrying an anaesthetized rhesus monkey, Albert I, to an altitude of 206,000 ft, but he died of suffocation.

- June 14, 1948: A V-2 flight at White Sands carried another anaesthetized rhesus monkey, Albert II, to a height of 428,000 ft. The monkey survived the flight, but was killed when his compartment impacted.

- September 16, 1949: A V-2 carrying a cynomolgus monkey, Albert III, exploded at 35,000 ft.

- December 8, 1949: The rhesus monkey Albert IV was launched with biomedical monitoring and suffered no ill effects from a V-2 flight to 425,000 ft until the moment of impact at White Sands.

- August 31, 1950: A mouse was launched in a V-2 to 450,000 ft in which behavior was photographed in-flight and recovered (the biological payload did not survive impact).

Animals in Spaceflight.mp4
July 14: The first Convair MX -774 missile was test fired at White Sands. It weighed 2800 lbs and had a thrust of 7900 lbs. Three launches over the next 18 months resulted in three failures.


MX-774 pad.jpg

MX-774 Launch List.txt
September 14: Professor E. P. Wigner discussed the application of nuclear energy to space propulsion.
September 15: The Committee on Guided Missiles of the Research and Development Board recommended that the Army Hermes project provide a continuing analysis of problems related to the development of an Earth satellite.
September 15: First launch of a Soviet R-1 (a copy of the V-2) at Kasputin Yar. The RD-100 engine (designed by Glushko) burned EtOH/LOX and had a thrust of 68,000 lbs.



R-1 Launch List.txt
November 6: Dr. H. Tsien at California Institute of Technology described

a design for a nuclear powered space ship.

H.S. Tsien.mp4

November 10: Col. Harry G. Armstrong, M.D. organized a panel discussion on the “Aeromedical Problems of Space Travel.” This first Symposium on Space Medicine was held at the USAF School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Field, San Antonio. It featured papers by Dr. Armstrong, Dr. Hubertus Strughold and Dr. Heinz Haber as well as commentary by several well-known scientists from universities and the military. This symposium marked the beginning of formal, academic inquiry into the medical hazards of extra-atmospheric flight. Strughold resolved the contradiction inherent in the title of the symposium by emphatically using the term “space medicine” for the first time. Dr. Strughold predicted that the main medical problems of spaceflight could be formulated and the majority of the questions fully answered within 10 to 15 yr. Hardware could be developed within 15 to 20 yr. The first manned spaceflights thus would become feasible between 1964 and 1969.

December 29: The First Report of the Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal, reported that the United States had been engaged in research on an Earth satellite. The Report of the Executive Secretary of the Research and Development Board, contained as

an appendix, stated :

“The Earth Satellite Vehicle Program, which was being carried out independently by each military service, was assigned to the Committee on Guided Missiles for coordination. To provide an integrated program with resultant elimination of duplication, the committee recommended that current efforts in this field be limited to studies and component designs; well-defined areas of such research have been allocated to each of the three military departments.”
February 9: The Department of Space Medicine was established at the School of Aviation Medicine, Randolph Field, Tex., by Col. Harry G. Armstrong. Dr. Hubertus Strughold subsequently became the first and only Professor of Space Medicine.

Ref - Harsch V. “Life, Work and Times of Hubertus Strughold, 1898-1986.” Rethra Verlag. Neubrandenburg, Germany. 2003. ISBN 3-937394-14-1, 188 pages, in German.

Strughold Accomplishments.pdf

Strughold Controversy.doc

February 24: The fifth Bumper test at White Sands sent a V-2 to 63 miles, and a Wac-Corporal to 244 miles, a new record altitude above the Earth, and attained a record speed of 5,510 miles per hour. It measured ion densities in the upper atmosphere arid near space.

May 3: The US. Navy launched Martin Viking rocket No. 1 at White Sands to reach an altitude of 51.5 miles and a speed of 2,250 miles per hour. This single stage research rocket carried a payload of 464 pounds of instruments and had a 20,000 lb thrust engine. Twelve were eventually launched, the last on February 4, 1955. It was the first successful rocket with a gimbaled engine.

Viking-10 050754.jpg

Viking Launch List.txt
May 11: President Truman authorized the Atlantic Missile Range at Cape Canaveral, Florida.
May: Two papers were presented at the Aero Medical Association meeting:

Some Aviation Medical Problems Associated with Potential Rocket Flight” by Gen. Harry Armstrong, M.D. and “Cybernetics and Aviation Medicine” by Col. Paul Campbell, M.D.

September 1: The "Conquest of Space" by Willey Ley is published. It describes a Lunar landing using the Direct Ascent mode.
September 25: First launch of the R-2 from Kasputin Yar. The RD-101 engine (Glushko designed) had a thrust of 81,000 lbs and burned EtOH/LOX.


R-2 Launch List.txt
During 1949-1952, the Soviet Union sent mice, rats and rabbits on several non-survival flights. They also launched six R-1 flights with nine dogs up to 100 kilometers, three of which made two trips each (each flight had two dogs). This was under the direction of the space biomedical expert, Vladimir Yazdovsky. The launch vehicles were directed by Sergei Korolev.

  • August 15, 1951: Launch of the R-1 IIIA-1 suborbital flight with two dogs (Tsygan and Dezik). This first launch was successful.

  • September 1951: Launch of R-1 flight with Dezik and Lisa. This second launch, as well as the forth launch, were both failures and the dogs did not survive.

  • September 15, 1951: The sixth and last suborbital dog launch occurred which was successful and reached 100 km. Both dogs survived.

In total, 9 dogs were flown to an altitude of 100 km (62 mi) on board 15 scientific flights using R-1 rockets from 1951 to 1956. The dogs wore pressure suits with acrylic glass bubble helmets. From 1957 to 1960, 11 flights with dogs were made on the R-2A series, which flew to about 200 km (124 mi). Three flights were made to an altitude of about 450 km (310 mi) on R-5A rockets in 1958. In the R-2 and R-5 rockets, the dogs were contained in a pressurized cabin.


Soviet dog space suit.jpg

Soviet Dog Space Suit 2.jpg
Journal of Aviation Medicine articles:
Armstrong, H G, Haber, H, Strughold, H. Aeromedical problems of space travel.

20060383-1.pdf JAM 1949 20: 383-417.

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