Author Topic: Redstone Arsenal Through The Years 2003 (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center)  (Read 359 times)

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Redstone Arsenal Through The Years 2003 US Army (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center History)

Jeff Quitney
Published on Jul 30, 2018

Tells the history of the US Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, Alabama, part of which became the  NASA George C. Marshall Space Flight Center.

Redstone Arsenal (RSA) is a United States Army post... adjacent to Huntsville in Madison County, Alabama, United States... The Arsenal is a garrison for a number of tenants including the United States Army Materiel Command, Army's Aviation and Missile Command, the Missile Defense Agency of the Department of Defense, and NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center... The base contains a government and contractor workforce that averages 36,000 to 40,000 personnel daily.

...the arsenal became the focal point of the Army’s rocket and space projects, including development of the first U.S. ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles in the 1950s.

As part of the mobilization leading to U.S. involvement in World War II, Huntsville Arsenal was established in 1941 to create a second chemical weapons plant in addition to one in Edgewood, Maryland.

Army Ordnance Corps

At the close of World War II, a number of key German scientists and engineers were brought to the United States under Operation Paperclip. Col. Holger Toftoy arranged for 127 individuals, including Wernher von Braun, to receive contracts for work on Army missiles. In late 1945, they began arriving at Fort Bliss, Texas, where, using components brought from Germany, started upgrading the V-2 missile. Testing was done at the nearby White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico.

On 1 June 1949, the Army Chief of Ordnance designated Redstone Arsenal as the Ordnance Rocket Center, its facility for ordnance rocket research and development. In April 1950, the Fort Bliss missile development operation, then with 130 German contract employees, 120 civil-service employees, and 500 military personnel was transferred to Redstone Arsenal. This became the Ordnance Guided Missile Center (OGMC), with Maj. James Hamill as acting commander and von Braun as technical director). An initial project was the Major tactical missile.

Upon the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, OGMC was given the mission of developing a surface-to-surface ballistic missile... the design... ultimately became the PGM-11 with the popular name Redstone rocket. To expedite development, an existing engine was used, greatly reducing the operational range to between 58 and 200 miles.

Test operations were under Kurt Debus, who set up the Interim Test Stand and the launch facility at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Redstone static fire testing began in the spring of 1953, followed by the first launch at Cape Canaveral on 20 August 1953.

In addition to the Redstone rocket development, the OML had many other research and development programs... Projects in Surface-to-Air included the Nike B (later called the Nike Hercules) and others. Surface-to-Surface projects were the Honest John, Little John, Hawk, Lacrosse... The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology... designed the Corporal system and later was the R&D designer of the Sergeant.

At a 1954 meeting of the Spaceflight Committee of the American Rocket Society, von Braun proposed placing a satellite into orbit using the Redstone with clusters of small solid-fuel rockets on top. The proposal, Project Orbiter, was rejected in 1955.

The Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA), commanded by Maj. Gen. John Medaris, was formed on 1 February 1956, taking over from Redstone Arsenal.

On 4 October 1957, the USSR orbited Sputnik I, the first Earth satellite. A second Sputnik was launched a month later. On 6 December 1957, a first attempt to launch a satellite-carrying Vanguard failed. Toftoy, Medaris, and von Braun immediately pleaded for the opportunity to show what the Army's "space team" could do. The go-ahead was given and on 31 January 1958, America's first satellite, Explorer I, was placed into orbit using a modified Jupiter launch vehicle (a four-stage system designated Juno I).
Originally a public domain film from the US Army, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and one-pass brightness-contrast-color correction & mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).

Tony De La Rosa