March 5: The Museum in Washington, DC will open today. Due to weather, the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA is closed.
This is a cutaway of the turbopump for the first stage rocket engine of the Vanguard launch vehicle. The Vanguard was the first American rocket specifically designed to launch a satellite. The first stage General Electric engine, designated X-405, produced 27,000 pounds of thrust for 142 seconds. The propellants in the X-405 were furnished to the double shell type thrust chamber by this geared turbopump powered by the decomposition products 90% hydrogen peroxide.
The rocket malfunctioned during its first launch attempt but on March 17, 1958, it successfully placed Vanguard 1 into orbit, the second U.S. satellite (a modified U.S. Army Jupiter-C had launched Explorer 1 on January 31, 1958). There were other Vanguard failures but the Vanguard vehicle successfully placed Vanguard II into orbit on February 17, 1959.
The Wright-Malta Corporation donated this turbopump to the Smithsonian Institution in 1976.
Gift of Malta Test Station, Balston Spa, NY