May 20, 2022

On This Day in Space! Jan. 17, 1985: Final Aerobee sounding rocket launched

On Jan. 17, 1985, the United States launched its 1,037th and final Aerobee rocket. 

Aerobee rockets were the first sounding rockets that the U.S. launched to research Earth’s upper atmosphere. The small, suborbital rockets measured things like temperature, pressure, radiation and ozone.

The first Aerobee sounding rocket launched on Nov. 24, 1947 under a project led by the U.S. Navy.

The first Aerobee sounding rocket launched on Nov. 24, 1947 under a project led by the U.S. Navy. (Image credit: U.S. Navy)

The last Aerobee rocket to launch was a variation called Aerobee 150, and it lifted off from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. 

This rocket stood about 30 feet tall and could fly to an altitude of 170 miles with payloads weighing up to 150 pounds. This rocket’s payload was a device designed to observe airglow, or the constant dim glow of Earth’s atmosphere.

Catch up on our entire “On This Day In Space” series on YouTube with this playlist.   

On This Day in Space Archive!  

Still not enough space? Don’t forget to check out our Space Image of the Day, and on the weekends our Best Space Photos and Top Space News Stories of the week

Email Hanneke Weitering at [email protected] or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. 

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