Redstone Rocket Engine

Left to right, V-2, Redstone and Navaho rocket engines The Redstone rocket was an Army bombardment rocket that was developed by the Rocketdyne Division of North American Aviation.

The Redstone engine (at center in photo) began as a modification of the Navaho booster engine (at right in photo) and was a direct descendant of the V-2 rocket engine (at left in photo) developed by Germany during World War II. The Redstone's liquid-fueled engine burned alcohol and liquid oxygen.

The rocket's all-inertial guidance system used a gyroscopically stabilized platform. Although its flight path was pre-programmed, signals activated the steering mechanisms while the rocket was in flight. For control during powered ascent, the Redstone used tail fins with movable rudders and refractory carbon vanes mounted in the rocket exhaust.

In August 1953, a Redstone flew 8,000 yards from the military's missile range at Cape Canaveral, Fla. During the next five years, 37 Redstones were fired to test structure, engine performance, guidance and control, tracking, and telemetry.

America's first orbiting satellite, Explorer 1, was launched Jan. 31, 1958, using a Jupiter C rocket powered by a Redstone engine. On May 5, 1961, astronaut Alan Shepard became the first American in space when he was launched on a suborbital flight in a McDonnell-built Mercury capsule by a Redstone rocket engine.

First launch (missile): August 1953
Length: 70 feet
Diameter: Almost 6 feet
Thrust: 75,000 pounds
Speed at burnout: 3,800 mph