While many aerodynamic, structural, components and component tests were conducted at NASA Langley, 1 group of Langley researchers had been piling wind tunnel tests in an Air Force facility in Tennessee.
NASA Langley scientists and investigators were working on many different rocket designs — launching, advice, automated control and telemetry techniques were under growth before Job Mercury took form in 1958.
Little Joe has been a solid-fuel rocket, also among the oldest U.S. launching vehicles based on the principle of this jet engine that is flying. The very first successful launching of Little Joe happened at Wallops Island, Va. at October 1959 — towering 40 miles out across the Atlantic Ocean. The rocket has been 50 ft tall and weighed against 28,000 lbs. Little Joe’s motors generated a total of 250,000 lbs of thrust at takeoff. Little Joe has been of fantastic value to Project Mercury, taking instrumented payloads to several altitudes, and permitting engineers to look at the performance of the Mercury capsule escape aircraft and retrieval systems.
Small Joe rockets were utilized to ship 2 Rhesus monkeys, both Sam and Miss Sam, right into space in December 1959 and January 1960. At the nose cone of a single Small Joe capsule, Sam flew 55 kilometers to space prior to returning. Sam supplied flight engineers having a much better idea of the way the Mercury astronauts will fare better in their following flights.
The Large Joe program included ballistic evaluations of a Mercury capsule in an Atlas missile. Big Joe has been a one-ton, full size instrumented mock-up of this suggested Mercury spacecraft, designed to check the potency of the ablative heat shield as well as the aerodynamic features of the capsule layout. Big Joe was established in Sept. 9, 1959. The Large Joe job, from design to start, was attained in under a year — the first step in offering a launching car for Project Mercury. Large Joe’s launch aboard an Atlas D booster revealed a capsule may be started (100 miles to the atmosphere), independent from the Atlas rocket and drop down to Earth in states that closely mimicked orbital reentry. Additionally, it proved to be an superb practice for army healing teams and verified the blunt-body capsule had played since Langley wind-tunnel evaluations and other lab studies had called.