White Sands Missile Range Hall of Fame

William Rice
Chief of Telemetry
Developer, Drone Formation Control System
Served 1960 – 1995
Inducted 2023

Rice started work at White Sands in 1960 while finishing his degree in computer science at NMSU.  He retired in Las Cruces in 1995.  Rice is being inducted for his work perfecting some of the latest cutting-edge technology used to test missile systems at White Sands.

Initially Rice worked in “real-time computing.”  This means that computer-data systems can collect, process and display information in the blink of an eye. To the observer, there is no perceptible lag time between when an event takes place and when they are made aware of it. For missiles, it means being able to track a missile and display its flight instantaneously to a safety officer who can destroy the vehicle if it malfunctions and threatens populated areas. Eventually, Rice was known as “Mr. Real-Time.”

Rice helped develop the Drone Formation Control System which used computers and data systems to remotely fly real aircraft in formation as targets for missile systems like Patriot. In fact, with Rice’s assistance, the system was able to fly three jets to be fired upon by three Patriot missiles. As chief of the system, his team adapted it to remotely control Army tanks over 60 miles away on the north end of White Sands.

Other significant assignments for Rice included being Chief of Telemetry and the “executing agent” for developing Global Positioning for use in the missile range’s instrumentation systems. “Telemetry” is the ability to collect data from tests by radioing it to recording devices.

Rice lives in Las Cruces.