Since opening to the public in 1966, the museum has introduced millions of visitors to the history of rocketry and space flight. The museum grounds encompass two adjoining launch complexes, Launch Complex 26 and Launch Complex 5/6.
Launch Complex 26 is the site of the first successful launch of an American satellite, Explorer I, in 1958 by the U.S. Army. Beginning with early Redstone, Jupiter and Juno flights in 1957, Launch Complex 26 hosted 36 launches until its deactivation in 1963. Three primates, Gordo, Able and Miss Baker, were launched here in 1958 and 1959, paving the way for future manned space flights. Launch Complex 26 also served as the site of numerous Jupiter launches as part of NATO's combat crew training program through the early 1960s.
Launch Complex 5/6 is the launch site for the earliest Project Mercury missions. It was from Pad 5 that the first two American astronauts, Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom, were launched into space during 1961.
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