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Spectrograph, UV, V-2


Display Status:

This object is on display in the Boeing Aviation Hangar room at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Spectrograph, UV, V-2

Collection Item Summary:

Solar spectrograph designed to be flown on a V-2 rocket. A group at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington D.C. led by Richard Tousey created this rugged design to be flown initially in a V2 warhead and hopefully to survive the flight intact, for physical retrieval of photographic film. It utilizes a simple Rowland grating, and has two tiny spherical entrance apertures made of lithium fluoride. The rotation of the rocket during exposures was incorporated into the design to produce a crude slit-like spectrum. After World War II, captured German V2 rockets provided a means for sending scientific instruments above much of the Earth's atmosphere, which absorbs ultraviolet radiation. This instrument is one of about a dozen manufactured for NRL by Baird Associates of Cambridge MA. The first successful flight came on 10 October 1946. The solar spectra from the mission provided data on the pattern of UV absorption by ozone in the Earth's atmosphere. This example is most likely unflown. It was lent to the Smithsonian by NRL in August 1982 and transferred in 1983; it was exhibited in the Stars Gallery until October 1997. See also A198400181001.

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 Naval Research Laboratory


Welded steel and hardened steel components, glass grating, optical mirrors, fluorite lenses


3-D: 61 x 30.5cm (24 x 12 in.)

Country of Origin

United States of America



Inventory Number


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