Redstone Arsenal, AL Image 1
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    Redstone Arsenal, AL History

    In 1941 the Army established three new Army installations in the Huntsville area; the Huntsville Arsenal, the Huntsville Depot, and the Redstone Ordnance Plant. These facilities were to help arm the US against almost certain involvement in the wars in Europe or Asia. As it worked out, the US became involved in both theaters later that year. All three installations were involved in the manufacture of chemical products, including chemical weapons, against the possibility that the enemy would use them against US forces. This never happened, and after the war the three sites were slated for sale.

    The installations were never sold, however, and in the later 1940s the Army identified a need for a site with industrial chemical production and storage, for fuel, and with range space for rocket and missile testing. The three facilities were consolidated into the Redstone Arsenal, and some of the sharpest American and European rocket scientists in the world were relocated here, the home of the US Army rocket program. The installations were adapted and expanded, with new equipment and housing, and a primary mission of developing military missiles. This mission continued through the Cold War.

    The basic mission of Redstone was added to in the later 1950s: winning the new US-Soviet Space Race. Newly created space agency NASA was staffed partially by scientists who worked at Redstone, and a new facility established on post. Meanwhile the military missile mission continued, driven by a perceived threat of a missile gap with the USSR, and later the Chinese development of atomic weapons. Redstone is where several of the US's early successful rockets were developed, including the Nike, Juno, Jupiter, and Saturn systems. Without the Redstone Arsenal, the US may not have been able to answer Sputnik or any of the other Soviet space successes of the Cold War.

    Since the 1950s Redstone Arsenal has remained the center of the Army's missile program, one of the less well known but most important research and development centers of the USA's rocketry and space programs.