This is the Viking 12, the last of a series of U.S. large-scale, liquid-propellant sounding rockets designed specifically to replace the diminishing numbers of captured V-2 rockets used for upper-atmospheric research after World War II. Viking's 20,000-pound thrust, XLR-10 liquid-propellant rocket engine was developed by Reaction Motors, Incorported. The rocket first flew in 1949.
Viking rockets differed in their configurations and payload capabilities. Viking No. 12, launched from White Sands Proving Grounds, New Mexico in 1955, reached a height of 144 miles. The Viking 12 shown here was reconstructed from parts recovered from the original rocket. The reconstructed Viking 12 was donated in 1976 to the Smithsonian by the Martin Marietta Corp.
Martin Marietta Corp.