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
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
The facilities in Huntsville had been established in 1941 for
the production of various World War II chemical compounds and
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.