#TBThursday - A new chapter in space flight began on July 24 1950 with the launch of the first rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla.: the Bumper 2. Shown above, the Bumper 2 was an ambitious two-stage rocket program that topped a V-2 missile base with a WAC Corporal rocket. The upper stage was able to reach then-record altitudes of almost 400 kilometers, higher than even modern space shuttles fly today.

Launched under the direction of the General Electric Company, the Bumper 2 was used primarily for testing rocket systems and for research on the upper atmosphere. Bumper 2 rockets carried small payloads that allowed them to measure attributes including air temperature and cosmic ray impacts. Seven years later, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I and II, the Earth's first artificial satellites.

Image credit: NASA