This is a Mercury Redstone rocket. It is a modified version of the Army's Redstone missile
(also referred to as a "Tactical Redstone"). This particular rocket stands outside of Gate 3
at the Kennedy Space Center.
The Redstone missile is
considered to be the successor of the German V-2. Research conducted on the V-2 at the
Army's White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico gave way to a number of improvements.
These improvements were incorporated into the Redstone missile, which was designed by
the ABMA (Army Ballistic Missile Agency). The first Redstones (for research and development
purposes) were built at the Army's Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama. The first of
these was flight tested on August 20th, 1953.
Though the first Redstone
missiles were built by the Redstone Arsenal, the Chrysler Corporation received the contract
to build the production models. The first of these was launched on July 19th, 1958.
Further modifications to the
Redstone missile yielded the Jupiter-C (Juno I) rocket, which launched Explorer I, America's
Starting in 1959, some Redstone missiles were modified
for NASA's Mercury program. The propellant tanks were elongated by 96 inches, adding 20 seconds
of burn time. The warhead section of the missile was replaced with the Mercury capsule
and escape tower. The first of these Mercury Redstone rockets was successfully launched from
Complex 5 at Cape Canaveral on December 19, 1960 in mission MR-1A.