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Vanguard Rocket


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 a Vanguard TV-2BU rocket, the U.S.'s first rocket specifically designed to launch satellites. As part of the Vanguard program, the Vanguard TV-2BU test vehicle was prepared for launch by the Martin Company on September 3, 1957. But due to a technical problem the mission was cancelled. The next launch opportunity was on June 22, 1959. However, the TV-4BU test version of the Vanguard was launched instead and orbited Vanguard 3.

Meanwhile, on March 17, 1958, the first successful Vanguard satellite was launched as Vanguard 1 atop a Vanguard TV-3BU rocket. The TV-2BU rocket was thus never used in the program but was essentially a duplicate of the Vanguard 1 vehicle and had the same markings. This TV-2BU was donated to the Smithsonian in 1958 by the Naval Research Lab.

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

Naval Research Laboratory


  • Overall, aluminum with riveted magnesium sheet skin; the first and second stage integral tanks are of aluminum with riveted magnesium sheet skins; second stage tanks of stainless steel, aluminum frames and magnesium stringers and skin.
  • A19580114000A, Rigging: Steel, Paint, Cadmium Plating


  • Overall: 72 ft. tall × 45 in. diameter, 1800lb. (2194.6 × 114.3cm, 816.5kg)
  • 3-D (A19580114000A, Rigging): 118.4 × 19.7 × 18.4cm (46 5/8 × 7 3/4 × 7 1/4 in.)
  • Storage (A19580114000A, Rigging): 123.2 × 27.9 × 26.7cm (48 1/2 × 11 × 10 1/2 in.)

Country of Origin

United States of America




CRAFT-Missiles & Rockets

Inventory Number