USPS: The missile mail experiment took place on June 8, 1959

Postmaster General Arthur E. Summerfield, fourth from left, looks on as mail is loaded onto the USS Barbero in Norfolk, VA, on June 8, 1959.

June 7, 2024
The U.S. postal system has been an early adopter of newfangled — and even dangerous — modes of delivery: AirmailPneumatic tubes. The Pony Express.

But perhaps no experiment was more out-there than the organization’s brief flirtation with missile mail.

On June 8, 1959, a Regulus guided missile loaded with 3,000 letters was launched from the Navy submarine USS Barbero and landed at the naval auxiliary station in Mayport, FL, more than 100 miles away.

The missile delivered its payload in about 22 minutes.

“Before man reaches the moon, mail will be delivered within hours from New York to California, to England, to India or to Australia by guided missiles,” Postmaster General Arthur E. Summerfield said at the time.

Summerfield’s optimism was not borne out, however. While the trial was a success, guided missiles could not carry enough mail to make them an economically viable option.

Source: USPS

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