In the months that followed, the men who could turn the pieces of missiles into flying rockets arrived. They set to work rebuilding, and half a year after the first pieces arrived the first full V-2 roared to life during a static fire test on March 15, 1946. The first Nazi rocket took to the American skies a month later on April 16.
ANALYSIS: Did the Nazis Have a Space Program?
For a year the tests were innocuous; engineers exploring the rocket's inner workings and learning by launching.
It wasn't until May 29, 1947, that the Americans involved in Project Hermes got to see the V-2's power in perhaps the most infamous and most spectacular launch of the program. The guidance unit malfunctioned on experimental V-2 weighing four and a half tons. It lifted off from the launch pad and veered south towards Mexico instead of north towards the uninhabited desert. Five minutes later the rocket landed a mile and a half south of Juarez, Mexico. There was no damage – it landed in a desolate area of jagged hills, gullies, and boondocks – but it was a close call. It narrowly missed an ammunition dump where Mexican mining companies stored powder and dynamite.