White Sands Missile Range, NM Image 1
    White Sands Missile Range, NM Image 2

    White Sands Missile Range, NM History

    The White Sands Missile Range was established in 1944, as the White Sands Proving Ground, to be the secret site of nuclear bomb testing. Its codename was the Trinity Site and the location had been hand-chosen by J. Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves out of multiple sites around New Mexico, California, and Texas, due to nearby Fort Bliss and Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range.

    After the location was established, the White Sands Proving Ground became the new headquarters for the top-secret Manhattan Project. The project, involved with the research of nuclear physics, had been started during World War II in case the Nazis were doing the same thing. Once soldiers started moving into the proving ground in 1944 for preparation, the test site was finally ready during the summer of 1945. On 16 July, the first atomic bomb was detonated at Trinity Site.

    In 1946, the first American-adapted V-2 missile launched from White Sands. This was the first high-altitude missile able to be controlled in-flight. There were 2 rocket launches a month until the German rocket scientists in charge of them were transferred to the Redstone Arsenal in 1949. In 1958, the proving ground was redesignated as White Sands Missile Range, including the Trinity Site.

    During the 1980s, space shuttle research became a part of the missile range's mission. It continues to support programs in testing and missile development for the Armed Services and NASA.