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Aerobee Infrared Telescope Nosecone


Display Status:

This object is on display in the Rockets and Missiles exhibition at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Collection Item Summary:

This is the flown infrared telescope integrated into the payload section of an Aerobee 150 sounding rocket. It was designed and built at Cornell University under the direction of Martin Harwit and consists of a modified Cassegrain telescope designed to be cooled to liquid helium temperature to minimize thermal noise. Small leaks in the system caused the helium to escape too rapidly, so the instrument was flown using higher boiling liquid nitrogen instead. The spectrometer was flown in 1967. The experiment provided successful background infrared measurements of the sky even though the stabilization system developed problems. The nosecone was parachuted to earth and recovered.

Donated by Cornell University to the Museum in 1983.

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

Gift of Cornell University


  • Casing - aluminum - optics - electronics
  • Optics - glass
  • Electronics


3-D: 213.4 x 45.7cm (84 x 18 in.)

Country of Origin

United States of America



Inventory Number