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The first UAS Flight Test Center was created between the FAA and NMSU in 2008. This site was added to the six congressionally directed sites that were later selected in 2013.

White Sands Proving Ground

somervell.jpgJuly 12, 1945, Adjutant General Somervell signs the order establishing the White Sands Proving Ground.  (Brigadier General Brehon B. Somervell, pictured right circa 1941, has been credited with coming up with the idea of the "Pentagon.")

Its composition included:

  • The Fort Bliss Antiaircraft Firing Range
  • The Dona Ana Target Range
  • The Castner Target Range
  • The Alamogordo Bombing Range

First troops arrived in August.  First rocket: TINY TIM (WAC CORPORAL's booster) was tested September 26, 1945

WAC Corporal_2.jpg


(Pictured left: Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory employee Frank J. Malina with WAC Corporal, WSPG 1946.) 

The first full-fledged Wac Corporal, with a Tiny Tim as a booster, was launched on October 11, 1945.  It reached an altitude of 43.5 miles, which was approximately twice that expected.  Lt. Col. Herbert L. Karsch was among those took charge of the V-2 rocket factory in a cavern near Nordhausen.  Approximately 300 boxcar loads of V-2 parts and equipment were brought to WSPG near the end of 1945.   On April 16, 1946, the first V-2 was launched at WSPG.


The Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory (BRL)
 was charged with building and instrumenting a missile proving facility at White Sands for the V-2 trials.

Manually operated ballistic motion picture cameras (cinetheolodites, pictured above) were installed to photograph the rockets in flight.  The films would yield trajectory and attitude information, but only after the rocket image in each of the thousands of frames had been meticulously hand-measured and the readings tabulated as numerical data. The film reading took hundreds of labor hours per launch!

Note: The BRL is best known for the invention of the ENIAC computer and its descendents. The BRL is the predecessor of the modern day Army Research Laboratory (ARL).