This 1952 film depicts the launching of an Aerobee rocket at the Air Force Missile Test Center at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico in the aftermath of Project Blossom. It was produced by Robert Redd. The film shows scientists from the Cambridge Research Center analyzing the air of the upper atmosphere. The film takes viewers through the process from the assembly of the rocket to its recovery, and to data analysis. Dr. Marcus O’Day of the geophysics research division at Cambridge Research Center opens the film (1:20). He and leading scientists convened to study the properties of the upper air of the atmosphere (1:29) in order to improve radio and radar systems (1:41) as well as to solve supersonic flight issues (1:44). The sign for Holloman Air Force Base (1:55) as the equipment for the experiment arrives (2:06). The missile is assembled (2:18). The rocket is lowered onto the trailer (2:24) to be taken to the launch site. All three armed services were launching these missiles (2:40). The main body is then clamped to the trailer(3:13). After the trailer is connected to the tow truck, the crew and rocket are moved to the launching site (3:29). A close up is provided of the missile (3:50) booster, the rocket motor (4:13), the oxidizer and fuel tank (4:34), the gas pressure tank (4:39) and the nose section containing the instruments for the experiment as well as a parachute to guide the nose down (4:42). While the Aerobee was on its way to the site, scientists and technicians assemble the instrument rack (5:03). As the Aerobee arrives at the launching site and is moved into position, fire prevention and safety crews pull in (6:06). The telemetering beacon is installed (6:31) and the instrument rack is attached (6:52). The fueling crew is seen donning protective suits and gas masks while preparing to fuel the rocket (7:09) as the nose cone is added (7:16). The final step for assembly is to fit the bearings over the electrical control cables (7:31). In order to keep temperatures down within their suits, the fuel crew is hosed off (7:47). The fuel truck then backs into position to being fueling (7:58). Once this is complete, one of the men sets out a danger sign so as to warn others the rocket now contains fuel (8:36). The launching pad is washed down to remove any spilled chemicals (8:43) and this exact same process is duplicated for the oxidizer (8:57). The Aerobee is then slowly raised into position (9:58). Once fully raised, clamps are removed and pull away plugs are added (10:52). Final instrument checks are conducted by remote control from the blockhouse (11:08). The checks involve remote telemarketing and tracking stations including Twin Buttes (11:40), Sacramento Peak (11:47) and Tula Peak (11:53). These receive and record signals from the rocket and this is the record which scientists will use for their study (12:01). An aerial shot of the blockhouse follows (12:36). The firing officer first clears the tower (12:53) and orders the igniter attached to the booster (12:53). A red warning flare is fired (13:45). Cameras, radar (13:49), telescopes (13:51) and observers all await the launch. A weather balloon is released to test the wind (13:57). A siren is heard blaring one minute to launch time (14:39). As the missile is launched (15:40) radar, cameras and telescopes adjust to follow its path (15:48). Once the rocket is expended, the nose cone with experiment instruments inside drops away (17:04). Tracking stations plot the descent of the cone (17:14) and once the impact is plotted, spotter air craft are dispatched (17:53). The pilot then drops a red smoke bomb to inform recovery teams of the impact area (17:57). The recovery team moves in on the nose (18:02) and it will be taken to the base for removal of the rocket’s recording devices and to salvage instruments for future launchings (18:13). The film turns back the Air Force Cambridge Research Center where scientists map out future experiments (18:33).
Marcus Driver O'Day (1897–1961) was an American physicist. In 1945 he joined thCambridge Research Labs. In 1946 and 1947 he guided a the Project Blossom research group, launching scientific payloads into the ionosphere using V-2 rockets.
The Aerobee rocket family was a primary sounding rocket of the 1940s and 1950s; Aerobees were launched into the mid-1980s with the last flight in 1985. The early RTV-N-10 Aerobee was a 6.14m (8.06m with booster) unguided sounding rocket used for high atmospheric and cosmic radiation research in the United States in the 1940s. The Aerojet designation for the first Aerobees was XASR-1 which was also the designation of its engine.
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