Once military officials began to understand the many hazards and variables that accompany a nuclear blast, such as intense heat, radiation and fallout, and the explosion itself, they initiated programs designed to protect their own forces and citizens. Protective personal equipment, hardened shelters, and radiation-resistant armored vehicles became a standard part of a military unit’s table of equipment. However, in order to ensure that this equipment is actually able to do what it is designed for, rigorous testing is required.
On the surface, the Corporal family was a collection of early American-developed ballistic missiles that initially weren’t very militarily significant. However, it was the vehicle on which various management and subcontracting philosophies could be tried and training of personnel from procurement through field operations could be conducted.
“The Apache did not recognize the new borders which came into being when the US acquired the southwest after the war with Mexico…
These new borders between the US and Mexico, as well as New Mexico and Arizona, caused some difficulty for the US Army.”
LASL’s Sleeping Beauty was an experiment on the design of an alpha-n initiator – the first in a series of such tests. Equipment was located in an underground bunker at Trinity Site in the New Mexico desert, some 250 miles south of Los Alamos – and only 1,600 feet from ground zero of a spectacular success, the world’s first nuclear explosion. But Sleeping Beauty did not involve the use of fissionable material – and she was an embarrassing failure.
Germany’s use of its V-1 jet-powered flying bombs and V-2 rockets during the latter stages of World War II ushered in the era of guided missiles. After the war, as tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union increased, both countries sought to develop their own arsenal of guided missiles.
“We’re the battling bastards of Bataan;
No mama, no papa, no Uncle Sam;
No aunts, no uncles, no cousins, no nieces;
No pills, no planes, no artillery pieces.
And nobody gives a damn.
Nobody gives a damn.”
“The Voice of Freedom (radio broadcast) kept telling us, ‘Hold out for two more days, help is on the way.’ We could have taken the truth. But they lied to us.”
On 11 July 1970, Athena missile number 122 was launched from Green River, Utah, in the middle of the night. Like the previous firings, which the Air Force began in 1964, this Athena was programmed to impact on White Sands Missile Range. Instead, project and range personnel watched helplessly as it rocketed south heading deep into Mexico.
By Jenn Jett, Museum Specialist