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Jupiter-C Nose Cone


Display Status:

This object is on display in the Space Race exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

Collection Item Summary:

This is the first U.S. nose cone with an ablative heat shield to be recovered from space. The ablative covering, made of a ceramic material, was designed to protect it from the tremendous temperatures experienced during reentry into the Earth's atmosphere. The Army Ballistic Missile Agency launched this nose cone atop a Jupiter-C rocket from Cape Canaveral on August 8, 1957. It reached an altitude of 435 kilometers (270 miles) and a temperature of 1,100 C (2,000 F). U.S. Navy ships recovered the nose cone more than 1,850 kilometers (1,150 miles) downrange. The nose cone was one-third the size of the actual reentry vehicle being developed for the Jupiter intermediate-range ballistic missile. Its test flight was a key milestone in the development of reentry vehicles that could carry nuclear warheads to their targets. The Army Ballistic Missile Agency transferred it to NASM in 1958.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum


Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

Credit Line

Transferred from the United States Army Ballistic Missile Agency.


Stainless steel inner shell, stainless steel plate covering aft end, and ceramic ablative coating


3-D: 81.3 × 47cm (32 × 18 1/2 in.)

Country of Origin

United States of America


CRAFT-Missiles & Rocket Parts

Inventory Number


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