At 10:39 in the video Explorer One is the following:

Pickering had once half-joked that JPL could do anything, but building the corporal proved a humbling assignment. While the first test went well, the next few were disastrous.

John Casani, JPL engineer: We had some that went south; the term “went south” means we fire them from the launch area at White sands the firing range was north. South of the firing range was Mexico, Juarez and what have you, so it was not good to go (south). But we had some that actually instead of going this way they went up the wrong way; they “went south."

Question: Did Corporal or other rockets launched from White Sands land in Mexico? If so, how often? (bold font added)

screen shot of Google Maps showing the southern bit of White Sands Testing Range in the US and Juarez Mexico, the historic Launch Complex 33 where Corporal testing and V2 testing took place:

screen shot of Google Maps showing the southern bit of White Sands Testing Range in the US and Juarez Mexico


1 Answer 1


There is a famous incident with a V-2 (or V-2 derivative) from White Sands landing near Juarez Mexico.

From the El Paso Times

It was May 29, 1947. Here is the El Paso Times report:

El Paso and Juarez were rocked Thursday night when a runaway German V-2 rocket fired from the White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico crashed and exploded on top of a rocky knoll three and a half miles south of the Juarez business district.

The giant missile burst in a desolate area of jagged hills, gullies and boondock.

No one was injured.

Lt. Col. Harold R. Turner, White Sands commanding officer, said failure of the rocket’s German-made gyroscope caused it to swerve from its set northerly course.

Some sources say the vehicle was actually a Hermes rocket, a US derivative of the V-2 with modifications.

enter image description here

The linked source claims, without attribution, that the Range Safety officer was going to destruct the errant missile to protect El Paso / Juarez but was physically prevented from doing so by a project scientist. Also that Range Safety procedures were "tightened up" afterwards to prevent future incidents.

This Periscope Films video shows a White Sands launch of a later Hermes variant.

I know of no such incident with a Corporal (at least the rocket, I'm sure many corporals from White Sands Missile Range had issues in Juarez) but that does not mean it never happened.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Can one visit this crash site? $\endgroup$
    – Paul
    Commented Jun 24, 2020 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Paul that sounds like an excellent new question to post! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jun 24, 2020 at 23:41

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