Mail Delivery by Missile: The 1959 Test That Made History

In 1959, the US Post Office successfully delivered mail via a Regulus cruise missile. The test was a success but was never repeated due to high costs and risks. The event remains a curious moment in American history.

Long Version

In the late 1950s, the United States Post Office was looking for ways to improve its mail delivery system. At the same time, the United States Navy was developing new missile technology. In 1959, the two organizations came together to conduct an unprecedented test: delivering mail via a Regulus cruise missile.

The Test

On June 8, 1959, the USS Barbero, a submarine, launched a Regulus missile off the coast of Florida. The missile, which was carrying two mail containers, flew 22 miles before landing at the Mayport Naval Station. The mail containers were then retrieved and delivered to the post office in Jacksonville, Florida.

The success of the test was significant for both the Post Office and the Navy. The Post Office saw the potential of using missiles to deliver mail in remote areas or during natural disasters. The Navy saw the opportunity to use missiles for more than just military purposes.

The Details

The Regulus missile was an early cruise missile developed by the United States Navy. It was designed to be launched from submarines and could carry a nuclear warhead or a conventional payload. The missile had a range of over 500 nautical miles and could travel at speeds of up to 600 miles per hour.

The missile used in the test was modified to carry two mail containers. The containers were made of aluminum and weighed 22.5 pounds each. They were filled with 3,000 letters, postcards, and other items of mail. The containers were also equipped with parachutes to slow their descent and prevent damage to the contents.

The mail containers were loaded onto the missile at the Naval Air Station in Norfolk, Virginia. The missile was then transported by truck to the USS Barbero, which was waiting at sea. Once the missile was launched, the crew of the Barbero used radar to track its progress and ensure it reached its target.

The Aftermath

The missile mail delivery test was a success, but it was never repeated. The cost of using missiles for mail delivery was deemed too high, and the potential risks outweighed the benefits. However, the test was an important moment in the history of mail delivery and missile technology.

Today, the mail delivery by missile test is remembered as a quirky footnote in American history. The two mail containers used in the test are on display at the Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. The Regulus missile that was used in the test is on display at the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Florida.


The 1959 test of mail delivery by missile was a unique moment in American history. It showed the potential of using missile technology for civilian purposes, but ultimately, the costs and risks were deemed too high. Today, the test is remembered as a curious moment in the history of mail delivery and missile technology.

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