September 9th 2019

On Sept. 9, 1982, the first private rocket launched from a Texas cattle ranch.

The Conestoga 1 rocket was designed by Space Services Inc. of America and built from spare parts of other rockets. It was named after a type of covered wagon that used to transport American settlers westward to the new frontier during the 19th century.

The 36-foot rocket lifted off from a private launch facility on Matagorda Island, Texas and flew for 10 and a half minutes. It reached an altitude of 195 miles and became the first privately funded rocket to reach space.

The only payload on board was 40 gallons of water, which didn’t serve much scientific purpose, but it was ejected from the spacecraft at peak altitude to serve as a visual marker so ground crews could watch.