WHITE SANDS MISSILE
E-Mail: Museum Director
From May 1963 to January 1966, a series of eight unmanned flight tests were conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the White Sands Missile Range to demonstrate the adequacy of the Apollo launch escape system and to verify the performance of the command module earth landing system. The launch vehicle used for five of these tests was the Little Joe II.
At 8:15 am on 1/20/66, the last Little Joe II headed toward an altitude of 24 kilometers and a downrange distance of 14 kilometers. Then, as designed, the launch vehicle started to tumble; the launch escape system sensed trouble and fired its abort rocket, carrying the command module away from impending disaster.
All went well, the launch, the test conditions, the telemetry, the spacecraft and post-flight analysis. Little Joe II was honorably retired, its basic purpose - making sure the launch escape and earth landing systems could protect the astronauts in either emergency or normal operations -- accomplished.
Four photos of Little Joe II follow on the next four pages.