New Mexico Joint Guided Missile Test Range (1947)
White Sands Proving Ground (1945)
Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range (1941)
|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|
|Coordinates||32°20′08″N 106°24′21″W / 32.33556°N 106.40583°W Condron Army AirfieldCoordinates: 32°20′08″N 106°24′21″W / 32.33556°N 106.40583°W Condron Army Airfield near the southernmost WSMR point|
|Controlled by||United States Army|
|Built||1948-07-09 cantonment completed|
1957-02: Launch Complex 37 completed
|Built by||Ordnance Corps|
|BG Eric D. Little (2021–present)|
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 as the White Sands Proving Ground on 9 July 1945. White Sands National Park is located within the range.
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.
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.
WSMR is located between Las Cruces, New Mexico to the west, Alamogordo, New Mexico to the east, and Chaparral, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas to the south.
White Sands National Park and the San Andres National Wildlife Refuge are federally-protected natural areas contained within the borders of WSMR.
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.
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; although General aviation, New Mexico Army National Guard (4 UH-72 Lakota Helicopters), private charters and CAP, among others, still use the airport.
The Trinity Site, selected in November 1944 for the Trinity nuclear test conducted on 16 July 1945, was designated a National Historic Landmark district on 21 December 1965, and added to the National Register of Historic Places on 15 October 1966. The White Sands V-2 Launching Site used for a V-2 static test firing on 15 March 1946, and for the first US V-2 launch on 16 April 1946, received landmark designation on 3 October 1985.
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. "WSMR Main Post" includes several smaller areas such as the housing area, golf course, "Navy Area", and "Technical Area" 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. 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. 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.
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.
|196x Big Picture: Tularosa Frontier|
|Short Notice Annual Practice (minute 16:50)|
|Countdown at White Sands|
Las Cruces Public Schools operates White Sands School on the missile range property.
Executive Order No. 9029
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.
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.
[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
late 1950…Fort White Sands…early in 1951
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.
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
#1 Viking St White Sands Missile Range, NM 88002