White Sands Missile Range Museum and Missile Park

The base for the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) is off of Highway 70 about a third of the way from Las Cruces to Alamogordo.  There is a small museum and a larger outdoor display of missiles there that although not hidden, is not highly advertised either.

We are staying at an RV park in Alamogordo and drove to the museum yesterday.  The Tularosa Valley that the WSMR and the White Sands National Monument are located in is very flat and the route for highway 70 was designed when somebody placed a ruler on the map and drew a straight line.  The WSMR base is on the back side of the Organ Mountains from Las Cruces and the view of them is quite spectacular.

The Museum itself is rather small and contains mostly old equipment and memorabilia from the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Missile control panel from the 1950's
Missile control panel from the 1950’s
Missile control and tracking system from the 1960's
Missile control and tracking system from the 1960’s
Tracking Telescope

Of course, what good is a missile range without a warning device?

WSMR_Museum_06_Missile_Mishap_Crash_Alarm

The first atomic bomb was exploded at the Trinity site, which is located in the northern part of the White Sands Missile Range.  For this reason there was also some memorabilia from the Cold War.

WSMR_Museum_04_1950s_Warning_Sign
Warning sign from the 1950’s
WSMR_Museum_07_Civil_Defense_Supplies
Civil Defense Bomb Shelter supplies

The real attraction however, was the missile park.  Almost every missile that has ever been tested at White Sands was on display.

Missile Park at the White Sands Missile Range
Missile Park at the White Sands Missile Range
Missile Park at the White Sands Missile Range
Missile Park at the White Sands Missile Range

The missiles themselves were in vary degrees of condition.  Some were pristine and some were more than a bit ragged around the edges.  We’ve had some exceptionally strong winds recently and there were a couple of missiles that had fallen over.  Even so, it was quite a walk through history.

Talos Missile from the 1950's
Talos Missile from the 1950’s
Honest John missile.  Unguided (ballistic only) atomic bomb missile from the early 1950's.
Honest John missile. Unguided (ballistic only) atomic bomb missile from the early 1950’s.
Nike Hercules interceptor missile
Nike Hercules interceptor missile
Redstone Missile.  The missile that put the first astronaut, Alan Shepard, into a sub-orbital flight.  It's only about 50 feet high.  Not that big at all!
Redstone Missile. The missile that put the first astronaut, Alan Shepard, into a sub-orbital flight. It’s only about 50 feet high!
Hound Dog Missile from the 1950's.  A very odd mixture of rocket and cruise missile.
Hound Dog Missile from the 1950’s. A very odd mixture of rocket and cruise missile.
Balloon Launch Decelerator Test Vehicle.  I read the sign a couple of times and still aren't sure how it was supposed to work.
Balloon Launch Decelerator Test Vehicle. I read the sign a couple of times and still aren’t sure how it was supposed to work.
Helicopter drone.
Helicopter drone.
A to-scale model of one of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan
A model of one of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan
Something from our more recent past.  The Patriot Missile defense system from the Gulf War.
Something from our more recent past. The Patriot Missile defense system from the Gulf War.

The White Sands Missile Range Museum and Missile Park have some absolutely unique exhibits that will probably be found nowhere else.  The museum itself is a bit disorganized but the missile park has a concrete walkway that is somewhat in chronological in order.

Wherever we travel we somehow seem to end up at aerospace museums of one kind or another.  The WSMR Museum and Missile Park isn’t as large or spectacular as some of the others that we’ve seen, but the history of White Sands and the completeness of the exhibits make it a worthwhile place to visit.

We’d give it a B+ for handicap accessibility.  The sidewalks and walkways were evenly paved and in good condition.  The missile park and museum were both easy to access with Susan’t wheelchair.  The only things we’d dink it a bit on was that the door to the women’s restroom, which itself was well laid out, was quite heavy and Susan was unable to open it without help.  That and the fact that a couple of the powered electric doors in the museum weren’t working.

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