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White Sands Missile Range

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

White Sands Missile Range logo.jpg
White Sands Missile Range (1960)[1]
New Mexico Joint Guided Missile Test Range (1947)
White Sands Proving Ground (1945)
Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range (1941)[2]
Part of United States Army Test and Evaluation Command
Located in the San Andres Mountains, the Oscura Mountains, the San Augustin Mountains, the Tularosa Basin, and the Chupadera Mesa in New Mexico
Tularosa-Basin-NM-USGS-map opaque.gif
Most of the northern Tularosa basin (blue) is used for the WSMR (area within dashed perimeter), which encloses numerous areas that are not military land (e.g., the NPS's White Sands National Park), as well as USAF facilities.
White Sands Missile Range location.gif
WSMR location
Coordinates32°20′08″N 106°24′21″W / 32.33556°N 106.40583°W / 32.33556; -106.40583[3] Condron Army Airfield near the southernmost WSMR point
Site information
Controlled byUnited States Army
Site history
Built1948-07-09 cantonment completed[4]
1957-02: Launch Complex 37 completed
Built byOrdnance Corps[4]
Garrison information
BG Eric D. Little (2021–present)[5]
  • BG David C. Trybula (2019–2021)
  • BG Gregory J. Brady (2018–2019)
  • BG Eric L. Sanchez (2016–2018)
  • BG Timothy R. Coffin (2014–2016)
  • MG Gwen Bingham (2012–2014)[6]
  • BG John G. Ferrari (2011–2012)
  • BG David L. Mann (2008–2009)
  • BG Richard L. McCabe (2007–2008)

White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) is a military testing area operated by the United States Army. The range was originally established as the White Sands Proving Ground on 9 July 1945. White Sands National Park is located within the range.

Significant events

  • The first atomic bomb (code named Trinity) was test detonated at Trinity Site near the northern boundary of the range on 16 July 1945, seven days after the White Sands Proving Ground was established.[7]
  • After the conclusion of World War II, 100 long-range German V-2 rockets that were captured by U.S. military troops were brought to WSMR. Of these, 67 were test-fired between 1946 and 1951 from the White Sands V-2 Launching Site. (This was followed by the testing of American rockets, which continues to this day, along with testing other technologies.)
  • NASA's Space Shuttle Columbia landed on the Northrop Strip at WSMR on 30 March 1982 as the conclusion to mission STS-3.[8] This was the only time that NASA used WSMR as a landing site for the space shuttle.
The site of the 1945 Trinity explosion became part of WSMR.
The site of the 1945 Trinity explosion became part of WSMR.



The largest military installation in the United States, WSMR encompasses almost 3,200 sq mi (8,300 km2) that includes parts of five counties in southern New Mexico:

  1. Doña Ana County
  2. Otero County
  3. Socorro County
  4. Sierra County
  5. Lincoln County

Nearby military bases

Nearby cities

National park and wildlife refuge

The following federally-protected natural areas are contained within the borders of WSMR:


Major highways

  • U.S. Highway 70 traverses the southern part of the range in a west-northeast direction and is subject to periodic road closures during test firings at the range.
  • NM 213 enters the range from the south from Chaparral, New Mexico and terminates at U.S. Highway 70.

Nearby airports

  • Las Cruces International Airport – No current regularly scheduled commercial passenger flights since 25 July 2005, when Westward Airways ceased operations. General aviation, New Mexico Army National Guard (4 UH-72 Lakota Helicopters), private charters and CAP use the airport, among others.
  • El Paso International Airport – Nearest airport with regularly scheduled commercial flights.

National Historic Landmarks

Designated historic sites on WSMR land include:

Current operations

Ground-based electro-optical deep-space surveillance telescopes performing space surveillance mission.
Ground-based electro-optical deep-space surveillance telescopes performing space surveillance mission.

The White Sands Test Center headquartered at the WSMR "Post Area" has branches for Manned Tactical Systems & Electromagnetic Radiation and conducts missile testing and range recovery operations.[19] Other operations on WSMR land include:


  • 1930: Robert Goddard began rocket testing in New Mexico.
  • 1941-04-13: US World War II preparations established[13] the Army Air Base, Alamogordo:[23] 1942 Biggs Army Airfield construction began near El Paso (1947 Biggs AFB, 1973 Biggs AAF)--the region's nearby Deming AAF, Ft Sumner AAF, and South Aux Fid #1 transferred to "Army Div Engrs" in 1946.[24]
  • 1940s: When the range was formed, ranchers' land was leased and, in the 1970s, taken permanently to expand the area available for testing.[25]

USAAF ranges

White Sands Proving Ground

New Mexico Joint Guided Missile Test Range

  • 1947 (late):[34][verification needed] A merging of military areas (e.g., former USAAF bombing range and the smaller WSPG) established the "New Mexico Joint Guided Missile Test Range".[35]
  • 1947-11-14:[verification needed] The USAF's Alamogordo Guided Missile Test Base (AGMTB) on the range had its first GAPA missile launch (39th for GAPA and first with a ramjet).[36]
  • 1948–05 to 1949-4: First six flight attempts for the Project Bumper two-stage V-2 SRBM/WAC Corporal two-stage research vehicles as the world's first "high-speed" multistage rockets to be launched.
  • 1948-07: USAF Project MX–774 commenced with the first RTV-A-2 Hiroc launch (from Launch Complex 33)[37]
  • 1949-03: Holloman's 2754th Air Force Base unit gained "control of [the WSPG] support airfield, Condron Field…from Biggs Army Air Field at Fort Bliss."[13]
  • 1949: German scientists transferred from New Mexico to Alabama (Dr. Ernst Steinhoff transferred from WSPG to Holloman's Air Development Center.)
  • 1949-07: The range's Four Bits Peak Instrumentation Annex was assigned to the AFB (disposed on 30 September 1960).[24]
  • 1951-07: The AGMTB became a sub-base of Florida's Air Force Missile Test Center until 31 August 1952.[38]
  • 1951-08-22: Broomstick Scientists in a unit of the 9393 Technical Service Unit conducted their first launch: the "TF-1" V-2 rocket.[39][40] (Broomstick Sweepings publication ended after a 22 January 1952 general order transferred "1st Ord. GMS Bn." soldiers to Detachment No. 1, Station Complement.)[41]
  • 1952-05: An additional[where?] 40 mi × 117 mi (64 km × 188 km) was set aside for the "Alamogordo bombing range, White Sands proving ground, and the Fort Bliss antiaircraft range".[42]
  • 1952 (mid): The joint range of more than 200,000 acres (81,000 ha) was 2nd in area to the Eglin AFB range (the Edwards AFB range was 3rd.)[24]
  • 1952-11: The range's Red Butte Instrumentation Annex was assigned to Holloman AFB (disposed on 22 November 1963).[24]
  • 1953-06: USS Desert Ship (LLS-1) (Launch Complex 35) was built to test the Navy RIM-8 Talos missile.[13]
  • 1957-02: The 9393rd Technical Unit, Ordnance, became the U.S. Army Garrison.[43]
  • 1957-03-13: Nike Hercules satisfactory launch from LC37.[44]

White Sands Missile Range

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Chapter Four: Global War at White Sands 1940–1945". White Sands Administrative History. National Park Service. Retrieved 7 October 2008. Executive Order No. 9029
  3. ^ a b "Condron Army Airfield (2444053)". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 28 May 2014. (Doña Ana county—entered in the GNIS on 20 March 2011)
  4. ^ a b "Development of the Corporal: the embryo of the army missile program" (PDF). Army Ballistic Missile Agency. April 1961. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2009.
  5. ^ "WSMR Official Website: Commanding Commander White Sands Missile Range".
  6. ^ "OACSIM - Leadership - ACSIM".
  7. ^ SpacePorting Part III: US Spaceports [1]
  8. ^ "STS-3 Columbia Lands at the White Sands Missile Range, NM". 12 June 2015.
  9. ^ "Remember the time we bombed Mexico with German rockets?". Gizmodo.
  10. ^ "USAF Accidentally Launched Rocket into Mexico's Mapimi Desert 45 Years Ago". Unredacted.
  11. ^ "This report inventoried and evaluated 150 Cold War era properties constructed between 1956 and 1961 at Orogrande Range Doña Ana Range, McGregor Range, North McGregor Range, and Meyer Target Range in New Mexico."
  12. ^ Rubenson, David; Robert Everson; Jorge Munoz; Robert Weissler (1998). McGregor Renewal and the Current Air Defense Mission. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-8330-2669-9. Retrieved 15 September 2008.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g "A Brief History of White Sands Proving Ground 1941–1965" (PDF). New Mexico State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  14. ^ Greenwood, Richard (14 January 1975). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Trinity Site". National Park Service. Retrieved 21 June 2009. Cite journal requires |journal= (help) and Accompanying 10 photos, from 1974. (3.37 MB)
  15. ^ "Trinity Site". National Historic Landmarks. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 15 February 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
  16. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 23 January 2007.
  17. ^ "White Sands V-2 Launching Site". Aviation: From Sand Dunes to Sonic Booms. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  18. ^ [full citation needed]Works by White Sands Missile Range Public Affairs Office at Project Gutenberg
  19. ^ "Time Magazine, "Recovery at White Sands"". 29 June 1962. Archived from the original on 3 February 2009.
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Official Home of the 450th Bomb Group Memorial Association".
  24. ^ a b c d e f Mueller (1982). "Holloman Air Force Base". Air Force Bases as of 1982 (Report).
  25. ^ Gibbs, Jason (19 July 2014). "WSMR, DOD may take control of range's Northern Extension Area". Las Cruces Sun-News. The Las Cruces Sun-News. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  26. ^ a b Ordway, Frederick I, III; Sharpe, Mitchell R (1979). The Rocket Team. Apogee Books Space Series. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell. pp. 290, 389. ISBN 1-894959-00-0.
  27. ^ a b c Ley, Willy (1958) [1944]. Rockets, Missiles and Space Travel (revised ed.). New York: The Viking Press. pp. 246, 253.
  28. ^ Bluth, John. "Von Karman, Malina laid the groundwork for the future JPL". JPL.
  29. ^ Hamilton, John A. Blazing skies: Air Defense Artillery on Fort Bliss, 1940-2009 ("Google eBook" of Government Printing Office document). ISBN 9780160869495. Retrieved 29 May 2014. Special Orders No. 143, Headquarters, Army Ground Forces, dated 6 July 1946, [established] the Antiaircraft and Guided Missile Center [from] the remnants of the Antiaircraft Artillery School, the Antiaircraft Replacement Training Center, Army Ground Forces Board No. 4,13 1st AAA Guided Missile Battalion, the 1852nd Area Service Unit, and remaining antiaircraft units, including three automatic weapons battalions and one gun battalion placed in the Army General Reserve.
  30. ^ McCleskey, C.; D. Christensen. "Dr. Kurt H. Debus: Launching a Vision" (PDF). p. 35. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 September 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  31. ^ Upper Air Rocket Summary: V-2 No. 4 (PDF) (Report). 29 May 1946. Retrieved 23 May 2014. General Electric Company provided gyros, mixer-computers, wiring, servo motors, and propellant piping to replace those German parts that had deteriorated with age. (also available at
  32. ^ Hamilton, John A. Blazing skies: Air Defense Artillery on Fort Bliss, 1940-2009. Government Printing Office. ISBN 9780160869495. three officers and fifty-five enlisted men...worked closely with the German rocket scientists who were located in a six-acre ordnance area on the north side of the Fort Bliss cantonment. [The military unit went to WSPG] to provide the manpower to build the [V-2] missiles and erect them on test stands.
  33. ^
  34. ^ Integration of the Holloman-White Sands Ranges, 1947-1952 (2nd Edition, 1957)
  35. ^ Mueller (1982). "Holloman Air Force Base". Air Force Bases as of 1982 (Report). p. 248.
  36. ^ Bushnell, David (25 August 1986). GAPA: Holloman's First Missile Program ( image) (Report). Air Force Missile Development Center: Historical Branch. IRIS 00169113. Retrieved 11 August 2013. [1st ramjet GAPA] "was launched 14 November 1947 and the initial liquid-fuel variety 12 March 1948.8... The last of the GAPAs, number 114, was launched 15 August 1950, and the project officially terminated at Holloman the following month.11 (date identified at
  37. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 19 August 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  38. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 May 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) test installation
  39. ^ Kennedy, Gregory P. (1983). Vengeance Weapon 2: The V-2 Guided Missile. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 62.
  40. ^ Egermeier, Robert P. (September 2001). "Former "Broomstick Scientist"". Aerospace America: 7.
  41. ^ Koppenshaver, James T. (30 January 1951). "Broomstick Sweepings" (PDF). Wind and Sand. pp. 1, 6. Retrieved 27 May 2014. late 1950…Fort White Sands…early in 1951
  42. ^ "The Milwaukee Journal - Google News Archive Search".
  43. ^ "White Sands Missle Range (WSMR) Historic Newspaper Digital Archive" (PDF).
  44. ^ Leonard, Barry (c. 1986). History of Strategic and Ballistic Missile Defense: Volume II: 1956-1972 ( PDF -- also available at Google Books). Retrieved 1 September 2012.[specify]
  45. ^ Piland, Doyle. "Way Back When..." (PDF). WSMR newsletter. Retrieved 11 April 2014. Launch Complex 38...Site preparation for the TTR [Target Tracking Radar] began in July 1959.... Site preparation for the Discrimination Radar was started in January 1961.
  46. ^ Site Plan: Nike Zeus Facilities ALA 5 (Map). reproduced in WSMR newsletter: Federal Government of the United States.
  47. ^ "New Device Will Plot All Planes". Alton Evening Telegraph. 20 August 1959. p. 29. Iconorama shows almost instantly the positions of aircraft thousands of miles away… Traces made by the planes being tracked are scribed on a coated slide by a moving stylus. … The slide plot measures only one inch square, yet overall error of the projected display is said to be about one part in 1,000. … Iconorama units already have been installed and operated at the Pacific Missile Range, Point Mugu Calif.; the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico; the Atlantic Missile Range at Cape Canaveral, Fla., and the Naval Research Laboratory
  48. ^ (5 June 1963) Kennedy visit leaves lasting impression at WSMR 
  49. ^ Conduct of Redstone Annual Service Practice at White Sands Missile Range New Mexico (Standing Operating Procedure) |format= requires |url= (help), Fort Sill: Headquarters, United States Army Artillery And Missile Center (the Artillery and Missile Center at Ft Sill was redesignated the Field Artillery Center in 1969.)
  50. ^ "Nike R&D at White Sands, Multi-Function Array Radar, 1954-1970 (page 16)".
  51. ^ "WSTF Community". NASA. Archived from the original on 3 February 2009.
  52. ^ "Part I. History of ABM Development" (transcript at Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  53. ^
  54. ^ "Two Rock Ranch Station, California: Supply facilities, $174,000."
  55. ^ Hoihjelle, Donald L. (February 1972). AN/FPS-16(AX) Radar Modeling and Computer Simulation (Report). WSMR Instrumentation Directorate.
  56. ^ "The Story of SIMTEL20". Archived from the original on 11 January 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  57. ^ "SAVE SIMTEL20!". Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  58. ^ "article". Aerospace America: B6. October 2004.
  59. ^ "NASA Building Test Pad at White Sands for New Spacecraft". redOrbit. 3 February 2008. Retrieved 12 September 2008.
  60. ^ NASA: Constellation Mission Project, Research, and Test Sites Overview

External links

This page was last edited on 22 October 2021, at 10:51
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