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Rocket mail

Arthur Summerfield, U.S. Postmaster General under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, is perhaps best known for a prediction he made in 1959.

"Before man reaches the moon," he said, "your mail will be delivered within hours from New York to Australia by guided missiles. We stand on the threshold of rocket mail." For anyone waiting for that special package from Amazon, this must sound like a tantalizing proposition—and it was briefly under development.

In the same year Summerfield made his bold statement, the U.S. Post Office tested "Missile Mail" for the first and last time. A rocket was launched from the submarine Barbero off the coast of Florida to a naval base in Mayport. The entire trip lasted 22 minutes, and the two mail containers it carried were delivered successfully. Sadly, the program was never implemented.

Photo: Sanjay Acharya