Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

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With the capture of the German V-2 rockets at the end of World War II, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) began studies in April 1946 on the rocket type at White Sands, New Mexico.   After studying the designs, the NRL developed the Viking rocket to replace the V-2 for scientific missions requiring higher altitudes and pointing stability.   During the early 1950s, the NRL developed Aerobee rockets, which were used as tools for meterologists as major weather features could be seen from space.  Project Vanguard was designed in 1957 as a three-stage rocket.   In October 1958, NRL transferred the Vanguard team to the newly established National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).