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Home > Huntsville in the 40s & 50s > Notes on the Von Braun Team’s Move to Huntsville

Notes on the Von Braun Team’s Move to Huntsville

As the decade of the 1940's closed, American leadership called for additional advances in military rocketry, which in turn, necessitated a series of changes in the Army missile program. On July 24, 1950, Bumper Wac Number 8 became the first missile launched from Cape Canaveral.

By September 1949, Fort Bliss officials had inspected the facilities in Huntsville, proposed a guided missile center in the area, and arranged the transfer of the White Sands missiles experts. The Secretary of the Army approved and orders were issued on March 21, 1950.
The facilities in Huntsville had been established in 1941 for the production of various World War II chemical compounds and pyrotechnical devices.

As part of their move, the Germans joined a growing cadre of U.S. rocketry specialists whose work in Huntsville throughout the decade of the 1950's would focus on such projects as the Hermes. the Redstone, and the Jupiter-C that would launch the first U.S. satellite into orbit. As part of the Hermes Project, the basic V-2 rocket was modified by the General Electric Company working with the Von Braun team. Although it did not result in an operational vehicle, the information contributed directly to the development of the Redstone. Redstone Missile No. 1 was fired by Army Redstone personnel at Cape Canaveral on August 20, 1953.

The Redstone gained increasing attention after June 25, 1954, when an informal committee of rocket specialists outlined a plan called Project Orbiter which would launch a satellite into a 200-mile orbit using a first-stage Redstone missile and a second stage missile called "Loki." After a meeting at Redstone Arsenal on August 3, Project Orbiter became a joint Army-Navy study project.

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