askNMSU (asknmsu @ nmsu.edu)
7:51 pm
Fri September 30, 2011

NM Has Been Home To Testing Many Rockets & Missles By The Military. How Close Did They Get To Cities

Las Cruces, NM – Celebrating New Mexico's 100 years of statehood. This week's question

New Mexico has been home to testing of a lot of rockets and missles by the U.S. military. How close did some of these tests get to cities?

The answer from Dr. Jon Hunner, NMSU History Professor:

A German made V-2 rocket landed off target and just a few miles away from Alamogordo. It was the 26th test of V-2 rockets conducted at White Sands Missile Range and the first to stray so far off target. While mistakes of this proportion are rare with military rockets, on July 11th 1970, a missile that was intended to land in White Sands Missile Range flew into Mexico before crashing in the desert. The V-2 rockets that were being tested at White Sands were part of a collection of over 100 V-2s that American forces captured after the surrender of Germany at the end of World War II. In the years after World War II, White Sands became the major hub of all U.S. missile and rocketry testing. The remoteness of the site and the low numbers of inhabitants made the desert of Southern New Mexico an ideal testing ground for new combat and aero sciences technology. On March 30th 1982, White Sands was also the site of an emergency NASA space shuttle landing when poor weather in Florida and Edwards Air Force base caused NASA to bring the shuttle down in New Mexico as it ran low on fuel.