This July, Redstone Arsenal celebrates its 77th year of operation. This anniversary is a monumental occasion for the great city of Huntsville, AL. With over 35,000 employees including 1,000 active duty, 19,500 government civilians and 15,000 contractors, Redstone is a staple for the local economy. Many refer to this site as the “Pentagon of the South”.
Established in 1941, Redstone was utilized as a chemical weapons production site. The need for another chemical weapons production site was fueled by the lift of the Geneva Protocol of 1925 (which intended to ban the use of toxic gases in war). The arsenal produced chemical weapons through the end of World War II.
A team of German rocket engineers, including the famous Wernher Von Braun, started developing the V-2 rocket, which laid the foundation for the Marshall Space Flight Center. On January 31, 1958, the first orbiting satellite, Jupiter-C Explorer I, was launched. Von Braun became the director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and his team went on to develop the Saturn rockets which launched a man to the moon.
Today, Redstone is the center of testing and development of the Army’s missile program. The Marshall Space Flight Center is still located on this base and communicates with the ISS (International Space Center) on research being conducted in space. The focus has been shifted to the SLS (Space Launch System) implementation to take a man from Earth to Mars.