In 1970, An Athena Missile Went Deep Into Mexico

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.

The Early Development of the Nike Missile

From the White Sands Missile Range Museum’s Archival Research CenterEdited for this website by Jenn Jett, Museum SpecialistEditor’s note: This narrative is undated, but is likely from the 1950’s-1960’s. The text of this document has been minimally altered and should be viewed from its contemporary perspective. Named after the goddess of victory of Greek mythology,Continue reading “The Early Development of the Nike Missile”

Editor Jumps Deeply Into Trivia Rabbit Hole

By Jim Eckles, Hands Across History Newsletter Editor Originally published in the November 2020 edition of the Hands Across History Newsletter As a curious retiree with some time on my hands this year, I started thinking about the photo shown below that is usually labeled as the “first flag raising” at the new White SandsContinue reading “Editor Jumps Deeply Into Trivia Rabbit Hole”

Making History 75 Years Ago At White Sands

For a 15 March 1946 German V-2 rocket demonstration, Lt. Col. Harold Turner, first commander of White Sands Proving Ground, invited 500 military personnel and 100 Las Cruces community leaders to watch. Although it was a static firing, meaning the rocket was bolted down, it was the first time a V-2 rocket motor was ignited on American soil. After hearing so much about the German vengeance weapon during WWII, visitors expected to see and feel a show of power. They got more than they expected.

The 1983 War Scare

Some of the weapons tested at WSMR had a great impact not only for their military uses, but in a larger geopolitical context. One of these is the Pershing II missile and the role it played in the 1983 “War Scare.” Because of President Ronald Reagan’s heated anti-Soviet rhetoric, fears the Soviet Leadership and KGB had of an American first strike, and events of 1983, the US and USSR came closer to nuclear war than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Life at Los Alamos

In November, 1942, Dr. Robert Oppenheimer and Colonel John Dudley visited Jemez Springs, near the Valles Caldera – a large volcanic crater and field in northwest New Mexico. Having considered other locations for the creation of a laboratory, the group found themselves in this remote part of New Mexico in pursuit of a location to bring together the various scattered groups who had been working on “problems” relating to the potential creation of a nuclear bomb.

The V-2 Program: Operation Backfire to the Hermes Project

Although America was slow to recognize the work of Doctor Robert Hutchings Goddard, his work was well known in Germany where experimenters had designed the V-2 rocket engine using his ideas. There was evidence that the Germans had followed Dr. Goddard’s work closely from his first published paper. It was apparent that the V-2 rocket, while much larger, was almost identical to missiles that had been tested at Roswell, New Mexico.