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The Huntsville Space Program

bullet gif U.S. space program scientists recruited from defeated Germany immediately at the close of the Second World War in 1945.

bullet gif Rocketry team, under U.S. Army supervision and headed by Dr. Wernher von Braun, moves to research facilities at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama in 1950.

bullet gif "Space Race" underway when Soviet Union launches first man-made orbital satellite (Sputnik) in October 1957; U.S. follows in January 1958 with Explorer I, put into orbit by the "Redstone" rocket developed at Huntsville.

bullet gif National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) opens the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville in 1960. Dr. von Braun's scientific team comes under this new nonmilitary government agency.

bullet gif President John F. Kennedy's 1961 pledge to land men on the moon before the end of the decade is fulfilled when Apollo 11 crew makes the first lunar landing in July 1969. A "Saturn V" rocket, the culmination of a succession of ever-more powerful launch vehicles developed at the Huntsville facility, provides the thrust for the Apollo spacecraft.

bullet gif Apollo moon program ends in the mid-1970s as NASA turns first to an orbiting space station project (Skylab was sent aloft in 1973), then to the development of a re-usable, plane-like space shuttle (first launched in 1981). Marshall Space Flight Center, now minus most of its original German scientists (von Braun took a NASA position in Washington, D.C. in 1970), continues to help develop launch delivery systems as well as scientific experiments conducted on board the new-generation spacecraft.

bullet gif Huntsville itself profoundly affected by the influx of businesses and workers attracted to the government's space program. Development of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center as a space science education attraction begins in 1970, and it soon becomes the state's biggest tourist draw.