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On This Day In Space: Sept. 6, 1947: First V2 rocket launches at sea

On Sept. 6, 1947, a rocket launched from an aircraft carrier for the first time. The V-2 missile was captured from a German manufacturing site by the Allied forces at the end of World War Two.

V-2s were the world’s first long-range guided ballistic missile. Wernher von Braun, a famous aerospace engineer, invented them for Nazi Germany before he was secretly moved to the U.S. and started working for NASA. Von Braun and the seized V-2 missile parts were brought to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, where NASA assembled the parts and started experimenting with launches.

Launch of a captured V-2 rocket from deck of USS Midway (CVB-41) during “Operation Sandy”, 6 September 1947. (Image credit: U.S. Navy)

The first V-2 to launch at sea blasted off from a U.S. Naval ship called the USS Midway in a mission titled “Operation Sandy.” The aircraft carrier sailed a few hundred miles south of Bermuda for the launch. After liftoff, the V-2 started tilting midair and only made it to an altitude of 15,000 feet (4,600 meters) before falling back to Earth.

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