Monday, January 23 – We headed out of the Coachlight Hotel & RV campground in Las Cruses, NM, and picked-up NM-70 to travel up and over the San Augustin Mountains. Our first destination was the White Sands Missile Range Museum (WSMR). Paul visited this site over 50 years ago and was interested to see how it changed. At that time, back in 1964, it wasn't much more that a half dozen missiles displayed at the side of the road.
In 1994, the WSMR was established as a place to collect, preserve and exhibit artifacts and other materials relating to the history of White Sands Missile Range. The White Sands Missile Range is an active Army installation. Security measures are in place requiring a valid photo Identification for one to walk through the gate to the museum. We waited in line 45 minutes to get approved along with maintenance workers, truck delivery people, traveling nurses, and even enlisted men.
The museum complex includes a building housing a restored V-2 German rocket and displays relating to early work with missile development and research.
WAC Corporal Rocket was the first rocket fired at White Sands in Oct. 1945 from a tower at Launch Complex 33. The rocket was designed to carry a 25-pound package of meteorological instruments to an altitude of 25 miles.
There are tons of displays in the Museum. All are very well described and nicely displayed.
The outdoor missile park contains examples of the rockets and missiles tested on the range. There are nearly 100 rockets and missiles in the park including Pershing II, Patriot, and many nuclear payload rockets. You can read all about them here. Here are just a few.
Pershing II is a two-stage, surface-to-surface missile sometimes credited with helping to win the Cold War.
The Patriot was designed to defend against high performance air-breathing targets. Each launcher can carry four missiles which are protected in their shipping containers. The missiles are launched out of their containers.
The Army Tactical Missile System (Army TACMS) was designed for deep attack. When reaching the target area the missile would dispense its submuntions.
The Patriot is the front, brown rocket. TACMS is red-tipped rocket.
Athena is a multi-stage research missile was used to simulate the trajectories of intercontinental missiles. Paul looks like a midget next to it.
Mace is large missile about the same size and weight of a small jet fighter. It was capable of carrying a conventional or nuclear warhead.
We had a wonderful time at the Museum and wondering around the missile park. Paul even thinks he found the missile he photographed over 50 years ago. Another interesting stop we would recommend to those traveling to the White Sands National Monument.
This was just our first stop for the day. Tell you about the rest in the next post.
Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see y’all back real soon. Have a great day!