White Sands Missile Range (1960)[1]
New Mexico Joint Guided Missile Test Range (1947)
White Sands Proving Ground (1945)
Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range (1941)[2]
Part of United States Army Test and Evaluation Command
Located in the San Andres Mountains, the Oscura Mountains, the San Augustin Mountains, the Tularosa Basin, and the Chupadera Mesa in New Mexico
Most of the northern Tularosa Basin (blue) is used for the WSMR (area within dashed perimeter), which encloses numerous areas that are not military land (e.g., the NPS's White Sands National Park), as well as United States Air Force facilities.
WSMR location
Coordinates32°20′08″N 106°24′21″W / 32.33556°N 106.40583°W / 32.33556; -106.40583[3] Condron Army Airfield near the southernmost WSMR point
Site information
Controlled byUnited States Army
Site history
Built1948-07-09 cantonment completed[4]
1957-02: Launch Complex 37 completed
Built byOrdnance Corps[4]
Garrison information
BG Eric D. Little (2021–present)[5]
  • BG David C. Trybula (2019–2021)
  • BG Gregory J. Brady (2018–2019)
  • BG Eric L. Sanchez (2016–2018)
  • BG Timothy R. Coffin (2014–2016)
  • MG Gwen Bingham (2012–2014)[6]
  • BG John G. Ferrari (2011–2012)
  • BG David L. Mann (2008–2009)
  • BG Richard L. McCabe (2007–2008)

White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) is a United States Army military testing area and firing range located in the US state of New Mexico. The range was originally established in 1941 as the Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range, where the Trinity test site lay at the northern end of the Range, in Socorro County near the towns of Carrizozo and San Antonio. It then became the White Sands Proving Ground on 9 July 1945.

White Sands National Park founded in the 1930s is located within the range.

Significant events

The site of the 1945 Trinity explosion became part of WSMR.


For the geography and ecology of the WSMR area, see White Sands, New Mexico and Basin and Range Province.

As the largest military installation in the United States, WSMR encompasses almost 3,200 sq mi (8,300 km2) including parts of Doña Ana, Otero, Socorro, Sierra, and Lincoln counties in southern New Mexico.

Nearby military bases

Holloman Air Force Base borders WSMR to the east; and WSMR borders the 600,000-acre (2,400 km2) McGregor Range Complex at Fort Bliss to the south (southeast Tularosa Basin and on Otero Mesa) making them contiguous areas for military testing.[13][14]

Nearby cities

WSMR is located between Las Cruces, New Mexico to the west, Alamogordo, New Mexico 40 miles to the east, and Chaparral, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas to the south.

National park and wildlife refuge

White Sands National Park and the San Andres National Wildlife Refuge are federally-protected natural areas contained within the borders of WSMR.


Major highways

New Mexico State Road 213 enters the range from the south from Chaparral, New Mexico and terminates at U.S. Highway 70, which traverses the southern part of the range in a west-northeast direction and is subject to periodic road closures during test firings at the range. U.S. Highway 380 runs east-west along the northern edge of WSMR between San Antonio and Carrizozo, and is also subject to periodic closures during test firings. New Mexico State Road 525 provides access from U.S. Highway 380 to the north end of WSMR near Stallion Army Airfield.

Nearby airports

El Paso International Airport is the nearest airport with regularly scheduled commercial flights. There have been no regularly scheduled commercial passenger flights from Las Cruces International Airport since 25 July 2005, when Westward Airways ceased operations; general aviation, New Mexico Army National Guard (4 UH-72 Lakota Helicopters), private charters and CAP, among others, still use the airport. Regularly scheduled commercial flights are also available at the Albuquerque International Sunport, which is located 200 miles north of White Sands Missile Range's main base, but is closer to the northern test ranges than El Paso.

National Historic Landmarks

On 21 December 1965, the Trinity Site, selected in November 1944 for the Trinity nuclear test conducted on 16 July 1945[15], was designated a National Historic Landmark district,[16][17] and added to the National Register of Historic Places on 15 October 1966.[18]

Current operations

Ground-based electro-optical deep-space surveillance telescopes performing space surveillance mission.

The White Sands Test Center, headquartered at the WSMR post area, has branches for manned tactical systems and electromagnetic radiation, and conducts missile testing and range recovery operations.[20] "WSMR Main Post" includes several smaller areas such as the housing area, golf course, "Navy Area", and "Technical Area"[21] The WSMR Museum offers tours and exhibits including a V-2 rocket returned in May 2004 after restoration. The White Sands Missile Range Hall of Fame inducts members such as the first range commander, Colonel Harold Turner (1945–1947), in 1980.[22] A recreational shooting range just inside the "El Paso gate" on the south is outside of the Post Area.

The 1972 DoD Centers for Countermeasures (CCM) evaluates precision guided munitions and other devices in electronic counter- and counter-countermeasures environments.[23] Other operations on WSMR land include the Launch Abort Flight Test Complex for the Pad Abort-1, the White Sands Launch Complex 37 built for Nike Hercules tests, the White Sands Launch Complex 38 built for Nike Zeus tests with Launch Control Building now used for Patriot missile firings, the North Oscura Peak facility of the Air Force Research Laboratory Directed Energy Directorate, and the 1963 NASA White Sands Test Facility's ground station for Tracking and Data Relay Satellites, and the SDO ground station with two 18 m (59 ft) antennas.


USAAF ranges

White Sands Proving Ground

For additional events (e.g., USAF launches) at sites not on WSPG but that later became part of WSMR, see Air Force Missile Development Center.

New Mexico Joint Guided Missile Test Range

White Sands Missile Range

External media
image icon 1945 WSPG
video icon 196x Big Picture: Tularosa Frontier
video icon Short Notice Annual Practice (minute 16:50)
video icon Countdown at White Sands
1982 Space Shuttle Columbia landing at Northrop Strip


Las Cruces Public Schools operates White Sands School on the missile range property.[68]

See also


  1. ^ White Sands Administrative History (Report). National Park Service. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  2. ^ a b "Chapter Four: Global War at White Sands 1940–1945". White Sands Administrative History. National Park Service. Retrieved 26 November 2022. Executive Order No. 9029
  3. ^ "Condron Army Airfield (2444053)". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey, United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved 28 May 2014. (Doña Ana county—entered in the GNIS on 20 March 2011)
  4. ^ a b "Development of the Corporal: the embryo of the army missile program" (PDF). Army Ballistic Missile Agency. April 1961. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2009.
  5. ^ "Leadership White Sands Missile Range". U.S. Army. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  6. ^ "LTG Gwen Bingham". Association of the United States Army. 28 March 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  7. ^ "White Sands Missile Range". Astronautix.com. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  8. ^ "Trinity Site". White Sands Missile Range. Archived from the original on 6 August 2007. Retrieved 16 July 2007. GPS Coordinates for obelisk (exact GZ) = N33.40.636 W106.28.525
  9. ^ a b Jim Eckles (15 May 2022) Two crashes in two weeks: In 1947, rockets launched from White Sands landed in Alamogordo, Juárez
  10. ^ "Remember the time we bombed Mexico with German rockets?". Gizmodo. 11 May 2012.
  11. ^ Barclay, Michael (13 July 2015). "USAF Accidentally Launched Rocket into Mexico's Mapimi Desert 45 Years Ago". Unredacted. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  12. ^ "STS-3 Columbia Lands at the White Sands Missile Range, NM". NASA. 30 March 1982. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  13. ^ Rubenson, David; Robert Everson; Jorge Munoz; Robert Weissler (1998). McGregor Renewal and the Current Air Defense Mission. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-8330-2669-9. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  14. ^ "U.S. Army Fort Bliss Training Center" (PDF). Western Regional Partnership. 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g "A Brief History of White Sands Proving Ground 1941–1965" (PDF). New Mexico State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  16. ^ Greenwood, Richard (14 January 1975). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Trinity Site". National Park Service. Retrieved 21 June 2009. and Accompanying 10 photos, from 1974. (3.37 MB)
  17. ^ "Trinity Site". National Historic Landmarks. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 15 February 2008. Retrieved 28 January 2008.
  18. ^ "National Register Information System – Trinity Site (#66000493)". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 23 January 2007.
  19. ^ "White Sands Missile Range Fact Sheet" (PDF). NASA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 February 2017. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  20. ^ "Time Magazine, "Recovery at White Sands"". 29 June 1962. Archived from the original on 3 February 2009.
  21. ^ "Welcome to WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE WSMR" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 March 2013. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  22. ^ "White Sands Missile Range Hall of Fame". White Sands Missile Range Museum. 28 January 2021. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  23. ^ "Center for Countermeasures". Archived from the original on 6 April 2001. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  24. ^ "A Brief History of White Sands Proving Ground, 1941-1965". WSMR Museum. 21 September 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  25. ^ a b c d e Mueller (1982). "Holloman Air Force Base". Air Force Bases as of 1982 (Report).
  26. ^ Gibbs, Jason (19 July 2014). "WSMR, DOD may take control of range's Northern Extension Area". Las Cruces Sun-News. The Las Cruces Sun-News. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  27. ^ "Executive Order 9029: Withdrawing Public Lands for Use of the War Department as a General Bombing Range; New Mexico". National Archives. 15 August 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  28. ^ a b Ordway, Frederick I III; Sharpe, Mitchell R (1979). The Rocket Team. Apogee Books Space Series. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell. pp. 290, 389. ISBN 1-894959-00-0.
  29. ^ a b c Ley, Willy (1958) [1944]. Rockets, Missiles and Space Travel (revised ed.). New York: The Viking Press. pp. 246, 253.
  30. ^ Bluth, John. "Von Karman, Malina laid the groundwork for the future JPL". JPL.
  31. ^ Hamilton, John A. Blazing skies: Air Defense Artillery on Fort Bliss, 1940-2009 ("Google eBook" of Government Printing Office document). Government Printing Office. ISBN 9780160869495. Retrieved 29 May 2014. Special Orders No. 143, Headquarters, Army Ground Forces, dated 6 July 1946, [established] the Antiaircraft and Guided Missile Center [from] the remnants of the Antiaircraft Artillery School, the Antiaircraft Replacement Training Center, Army Ground Forces Board No. 4,13 1st AAA Guided Missile Battalion, the 1852nd Area Service Unit, and remaining antiaircraft units, including three automatic weapons battalions and one gun battalion placed in the Army General Reserve.
  32. ^ McCleskey, C.; D. Christensen. "Dr. Kurt H. Debus: Launching a Vision" (PDF). p. 35. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 September 2008. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  33. ^ Upper Air Rocket Summary: V-2 Number 4 (PDF) (Report). Defense Technical Information Center. 29 May 1946. p. 332. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  34. ^ Hamilton, John A. Blazing skies: Air Defense Artillery on Fort Bliss, 1940-2009. Government Printing Office. ISBN 9780160869495. three officers and fifty-five enlisted men...worked closely with the German rocket scientists who were located in a six-acre ordnance area on the north side of the Fort Bliss cantonment. [The military unit went to WSPG] to provide the manpower to build the [V-2] missiles and erect them on test stands.
  35. ^ Fort Bliss Main Post Early Cold War BASOPS Building Inventory and Evaluation, 1951-63 (PDF) (Report). U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. December 2006. p. 37. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  36. ^ a b Mueller (1982). "Holloman Air Force Base" (PDF). Air Force Bases as of 1982 (Report). USAF Office of Air Force History. p. 248. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  37. ^ Bushnell, David (25 August 1986). GAPA: Holloman's First Missile Program (Scribd.com image) (Report). Air Force Missile Development Center: Historical Branch. IRIS 00169113. Retrieved 11 August 2013. [1st ramjet GAPA] "was launched 14 November 1947 and the initial liquid-fuel variety 12 March 1948.8... The last of the GAPAs, number 114, was launched 15 August 1950, and the project officially terminated at Holloman the following month.11
  38. ^ "Bumper Project". White Sands History – Fact Sheets and Articles. US Army. Archived from the original on 10 January 2008. Retrieved 2 December 2007.
  39. ^ "A Brief History of White Sands Proving Grounds 1941-1965" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 October 2014. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  40. ^ "History of Holloman Air Force Base Space Biology" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 May 2014. Retrieved 18 May 2014. test installation
  41. ^ Kennedy, Gregory P. (1983). Vengeance Weapon 2: The V-2 Guided Missile. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. p. 62.
  42. ^ Egermeier, Robert P. (September 2001). "Former "Broomstick Scientist"". Aerospace America: 7.
  43. ^ Koppenshaver, James T. (30 January 1951). "Broomstick Sweepings" (PDF). Wind and Sand. pp. 1, 6. Retrieved 27 May 2014. late 1950…Fort White Sands…early in 1951
  44. ^ "Public Land Order 833" (PDF). Federal Register (Report). 27 May 1952. p. 4822. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  45. ^ Integration of the Holloman-White Sands Ranges, 1947-1952 (2nd Edition, 1957)
  46. ^ "W S P G Military Units Have New Designations" (PDF). Wind and Sand. 8 February 1957. Retrieved 27 January 2022 – via www.wsmrhistoric.com.
  47. ^ "Nike Hercules". Astronautix.com. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  48. ^ Leonard, Barry (c. 1986). History of Strategic and Ballistic Missile Defense: Volume II: 1956-1972 (PDF). p. 308. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 December 2019. Retrieved 1 September 2012.
  49. ^ Piland, Doyle. "Way Back When..." (PDF). WSMR newsletter. Retrieved 11 April 2014. Launch Complex 38...Site preparation for the TTR [Target Tracking Radar] began in July 1959.... Site preparation for the Discrimination Radar was started in January 1961.
  50. ^ Site Plan: Nike Zeus Facilities ALA 5 (Map). reproduced in WSMR newsletter: Federal Government of the United States.
  51. ^ "New Device Will Plot All Planes". Alton Evening Telegraph. 20 August 1959. p. 29. Iconorama shows almost instantly the positions of aircraft thousands of miles away… Traces made by the planes being tracked are scribed on a coated slide by a moving stylus. … The slide plot measures only one inch square, yet overall error of the projected display is said to be about one part in 1,000. … Iconorama units already have been installed and operated at the Pacific Missile Range, Point Mugu Calififornia; the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico; the Atlantic Missile Range at Cape Canaveral, Florida, and the Naval Research Laboratory
  52. ^ Conduct of Redstone Annual Service Practice at White Sands Missile Range New Mexico, Fort Sill: Headquarters, United States Army Artillery And Missile Center (the Artillery and Missile Center at Ft Sill was redesignated the Field Artillery Center in 1969.)
  53. ^ "Nike R&D at White Sands, Multi-Function Array Radar, 1954-1970 (page 16)". Nike Historical Society. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  54. ^ "Remarks Upon Arrival at the Missile Range, White Sands, New Mexico". The American Presidency Project. 5 June 1963. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  55. ^ Townsend, Neil A (March 1973). "Little Joe Test Program" (PDF). Apollo Experience Report - Launch Escape Propulsion Subsystem (Report). NASA. p. 14. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  56. ^ "Local Men Visit Zeus at White Sands". Wilmington News-Journal. 27 November 1963. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  57. ^ "Part I. History of ABM Development". Archived from the original (transcript at AlternateWars.com) on 16 April 2014. Retrieved 11 April 2014.
  58. ^ Mark Paine. "Sprint". Nuclearabms.info. Retrieved 28 August 2022.
  59. ^ "Public Law 90-110-October 21, 1967" (PDF). U.S. Congressional Record. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  60. ^ Hoihjelle, Donald L. (February 1972). AN/FPS-16(AX) Radar Modeling and Computer Simulation (Report). WSMR Instrumentation Directorate. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  61. ^ "The Story of SIMTEL20". Archived from the original on 11 January 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2014.
  62. ^ "82nd Aerial Target Squadron QF-106 Drone Pacer Six". F-106 Delta Dart Association. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  63. ^ "White Sands Missile Range AIAA Historic Aerospace Site". the Historical Marker Database. 6 October 2019. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  64. ^ "NASA Building Test Pad at White Sands for New Spacecraft". RedOrbit. 3 February 2008. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  65. ^ "NASA Constellation Mission Project, Research, and Test Sites Overview". NASA. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  66. ^ "Orion Pad Abort 1 Test a Spectacular Success". NASA. 6 May 2010. Archived from the original on 10 March 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2022.
  67. ^ Romero, Leah (25 May 2022). "Starliner lands on 'bull's-eye' at White Sands Missile Range". Las Cruces Sun News.
  68. ^ "White Sands School Homepage". White Sands School. Retrieved 26 November 2022. #1 Viking St White Sands Missile Range, NM 88002