Space History Photo: Little Joe 5B High-Q-Abort Test
A Mercury spacecraft lands in the ocean after launched from Little Joe in a High-Q-Abort test in 1961.
Credit: NASA

In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, "Little Joe" 5B launched a Mercury spacecraft in a high-Q-abort test. The ring-sail parachute lands the spacecraft off the shore of Wallops Island, Virginia.

The Little Joe rocket booster was developed as a cheaper, smaller, and more functional alternative to the Redstone rockets. Little Joe could be produced at one-fifth the cost of Redstone rockets and still have enough power to carry a capsule payload.

Seven unmanned Little Joe rockets were launched at Wallops Island, Virginia, from August 1959 to April 1961.

Each weekday, SPACE.com looks back at the history of spaceflight through photos (archive).