Note: The Missile & Space Gallery will close temporarily, beginning Dec. 8, 2014, for approximately five months for construction linking the gallery to the museum's new fourth building. This exhibit will not be accessible during that time. Click here for more information.
The Jupiter Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM), in service from 1960 to 1963, was an important link between early, short-range rockets and later weapons that could reach any point on Earth. Jupiter was a close relative of the Army's Redstone missile, and its development began in 1956 as a joint U.S. Army and U.S. Navy project. Rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun conceived the Jupiter after the Redstone proved successful, and rockets with a range of up to 1,500 miles seemed possible. Soviet development of similar missiles around the same time underscored the need for Jupiter. President Dwight Eisenhower gave the IRBM high priority in weapons development, second only to the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).
Originally designed for shipboard use, Jupiter was a compromise between Army and Navy designs. In 1956, the Department of Defense gave the USAF responsibility for building and operating all missiles with more than a 200-mile range, but the Army continued developing Jupiter in case the Air Force's Thor IRBM program failed. The first successful Jupiter launch took place in May 1957.
In October 1957, the USSR launched Sputnik, the first satellite--an event that caused the U.S. to greatly speed up missile development to counter the Soviet threat. As Jupiter was quickly made ready, the U.S. explored basing options. The single-stage missile's range of 1,500 miles required bases on the periphery of the USSR. Negotiations with France proved unsuccessful, and finally Italy and Turkey accepted IRBM bases. Italian and Turkish crews trained to operate the missiles, but Americans controlled the nuclear warheads. Two squadrons with a total of 30 missiles were operational at Gioia del Colle, Italy, by 1961; a single squadron of 15 Jupiters became operational at Cigli Air Base, Turkey, in 1962. Due in part to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the U.S. removed its Jupiter missiles from Italy and Turkey by July 1963.
TECHNICAL NOTES Warhead: Single W-49 in the megaton range Engine: One Rocketdyne S-3D of 150,000 lbs thrust Guidance: All-inertial Range: 1,500 miles Length: 60 ft Diameter: 8 ft 9 in Weight: 108,804 lbs (fully fueled)
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