Saturday, August 2, 2014

Retro Saturday: The White Sands Test Facility


Click the arrow to watch the film. Video source: wdtvlive42 YouTube channel.

This week's Retro Saturday selection is a 1994 NASA documentary titled, The White Sands Test Facility. Most of the film is about how the White Sands Test Facility supported the Space Shuttle program in the early 1990s.

No mention is made of its long history as the Army's White Sands Missile Range.

That history is documented on the web site of the White Sands Missile Range Museum.

Known in the late 1940s as the White Sands Proving Ground, it was here that Dr. Wernher von Braun and his team of German scienstists resumed their V-2 rocket development under the watchful eye of the U.S. Army.


Wernher von Braun at White Sands in an undated photo.

The Army's Bumper program comprised a V-2 booster with an Army WAC (Without Attitude Control) Corporal missile as its payload. The first six were launched from White Sands; Bumper 5 reached an altitude of 244 miles, the first U.S. rocket to reach space. The last two Bumpers were launched from Pad 3 at Joint Long Range Proving Ground at Cape Canaveral in July 1950. That site today is part of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

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