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Bumper 5, launched February 24, 1949
Bumper 5, launched February 24, 1949
Function Sounding rocket
Manufacturer Army Ballistic Missile Agency
Country of origin Germany/United States
Height 62 feet (19 m)
Diameter 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m)
Launch history
Status Retired
Launch sites White Sands Proving Ground, Cape Canaveral
Total launches 8
First flight May 13, 1948
Last flight July 29, 1950

The RTV-G-4 Bumper was a rocket built by the United States. It was a combination of the V-2 rocket and WAC Corporal sounding rocket and used to study problems pertaining to two-stage high-speed rockets. Eight rockets were launched during the Bumper program from May 13, 1948 to July 29, 1950.[1] While the first six flights were conducted in White Sands, the seventh launch – Bumper 8 on July 24, 1950 – became the first ever rocket to be launched from Cape Canaveral.[2]

Bumper program

The Bumper Program was conceived in July 1946 by Colonel Holger N. Toftoy.[3] It was inaugurated on June 20, 1947 to:

  • investigate launching techniques for a two-stage missile and separation of the two stages at high velocity,
  • conduct limited investigation of high-speed high-altitude phenomena, and
  • attain velocities and altitudes higher than ever reached.

Over-all responsibility for the Bumper program was given to the General Electric Company and was included in the Hermes project. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory was assigned responsibility for the theoretical investigations required, design of the second stage, and basic design of the separation system. The Douglas Aircraft Company was assigned responsibility for fabrication of the second stage, and detail design and fabrication of the special V-2 rocket parts required. Six Bumper launches, as well as other V-2 test launches, were from White Sands Proving Grounds. In 1949, the Joint Long Range Proving Ground was established at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the east coast of Florida. The July 24, 1950 Bumper 8 launch became the first of hundreds of launches from "the Cape."[2]

Launch history

Rocket number Time Launch site Pad Maximum altitude Remarks
Bumper 1 May 13, 1948 White Sands Pad 33 127.3 km (79.1 mi) Premature cut-off of WAC 2nd stage
Bumper 2 August 19, 1948 White Sands Pad 33 13.4 km (8.3 mi) First stage failed due to propellant flow interruption
Bumper 3 September 30, 1948 White Sands Pad 33 150.3 km (93.4 mi) WAC stage failed
Bumper 4 November 1, 1948 White Sands Pad 33 4.8 km (3.0 mi) Explosion in tail of V-2
Bumper 5 February 24, 1949 White Sands Pad 33 393 km (244 mi) Successful flight. Separation of stages at 32.2 km (20.0 mi)
Bumper 6 April 21, 1949 White Sands Pad 33 49.9 km (31.0 mi) Premature V-2 cut-off; WAC stage failed to fire
Bumper 8 July 24, 1950 Cape Canaveral Pad 3 16.1 km (10.0 mi) Low-angle atmospheric flight over 320 km (200 mi) range. First rocket launch from Cape Canaveral.
Bumper 7 July 29, 1950 Cape Canaveral 16.1 km (10.0 mi) Low-angle atmospheric flight over 320 km (200 mi) range

Launch of Bumper 8


  1. "Bumper Project". White Sands History - Fact Sheets and Articles. US Army. Archived from the original on 2008-01-10. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "A Brief History of Rocketry". History of Manned Spaceflight. Merritt Island, Florida: Kennedy Space Center. 2000-08-24. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  3. "Biographies of Aerospace Officials and Policymakers, T-Z". NASA History Division. Retrieved 2012-07-01. 

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