Friday, May 18, 2007

A Little About My New Job

As many of you know, I just took a position at the White Sands Missile Range Museum. First, though, I want to give a big Thank You to all of you who offered congratulations through Liss's blog - I appreciate the comments and all of the "good lucks!"

A few things about the museum and the new job. First of all, it's really cool. That may sound a bit juvenile but, really, there is no other way to describe it. What other job offers a chance to "play" with the rockets and missiles which led to the US space program!

Most important is the V-2, the system that began it all, captured from the Germans at the end of world war two. Here is a collage of the V-2:

If you notice, on the bottom photo, there are cutouts so that a visitor can see the interior of the rocket. Those extra pieces - part of the original German-made rocket skin - are all in a big box in storage.

About six miles from the cantonement area is the original launch site, where the German scientists - including Werner von Braun - and American military worked to launch the captured V-2's. The original gantry used in the final stages of launch preparation is still there. It is mounted on rails to be moved easily, and below the launch site is a blast pit. Below is the gantry with a Hermes rocket:

LC-33 is on the registry of National Historic Sites, however, since it is out on the range itself, is not accessible to museum visitors. The original concrete blockhouse is also there. It has ten foot walls and a twenty-seven foot thick pyramidal roof. It was supposed to withstand a rocket exploding on the pad, or a falling V-2 hitting it from 100 miles up.

In addition, the museum houses artifacts from the entire history of the range, from the earliest humans of the Tularosa Basin, through the ranching and mining history, the landing of STS-3, up to the newest testing of the Patriot and other missiles.

Like I said, a cool place to work, and I'm glad to be back after leaving the range thirteen years ago.


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