A DOWN-TO-EARTH VIEW OF SPACE FLIGHT

Milton W. Rosen

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: In many respects, the rocket capital of the United States is White Sands Proving Ground, New Mexico. Here, in the 40-mile-wide basin between the San Andres and Sacramento mountains, rocket vehicles designed and built in widely different parts of the country are tested and fired. This is where the Viking established a record altitude for single stage rockets of 136 miles and where the two-stage Bumper Wac ascended 250 miles, the highest altitude reached by a man-made vehicle. There is a saying among the rocket technicians who meet and discuss their work at White Sands-a phrase which goes like this, “You have either just had trouble, or you are now having trouble, or you are about to have trouble.” A few successful flights have received wide publicity; the public seldom learns about the many rockets which do not fulfill predictions. Nor is it explained that great odds were overcome to produce a record flight-a flight that would have been nullified by the failure of one component in several thousand. In a rocket-everything must work. It is because I have spent much of the last six years at White Sands that I have such a downto-earth attitude toward space travel.
Published in: NAVIGATION, Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 3, Number 9
Pages: 318 - 321
Cite this article: Rosen, Milton W., "A DOWN-TO-EARTH VIEW OF SPACE FLIGHT", NAVIGATION, Journal of The Institute of Navigation, Vol. 3, No. 9, 1953, pp. 318-321.
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