When it became a military base in 1941, Redstone Arsenal was actually two arsenals, Huntsville and Redstone. The Main job was making chemical munitions. The real excitement didn't happen till 1950 when Wernher Von Brown and the German rocket team arrived at what we now know as Redstone Arsenal. Von Braun and his team led thousands of other workers as they began the process of building America's ballistic missile program. Their first success, the Redstone Missile. "The foundation of what is Redstone is what the Army started, and it's been built and grew from that," says Mike Baker, the Redstone Arsenal Historian.
The growth of the programs at Redstone included that first missile's successor, the Pershing 2, which has been called the missile that ended the cold war. And for Redstone Arsenal's success, it wasn't just the hardware. "Starting out with the Ballistic Missile Agency, and coming through the organization we have today. Probably the finest organization in the world that could put that together. And that's not so much a function of General Officers and Colonels. That's a function of quality individuals who can do systems work," says retired Army Colonel, Tom Brown, a former Pershing Program Director at Redstone.
Quality individuals make great teams, and the team at Redstone Arsenal's Marshall Space Flight Center built the moon rocket, the Saturn 5. "I don't know the conditions in which they built the pyramids, and that kind of stuff, but I can tell you the conditions that existed at the time. The engineering feats here at Marshall to get men to the moon and put people in space, the way it is, is a wonder of the world," says 25 year Marshall veteran, Mike Rudolphi.
The Space Shuttle, which flew for 30 years, was another wonder. It has been described as the most complex machine ever built by man. The shuttle made it possible to build the International Space Station, and give humans a permanent presence in space.
Work continues every day at Redstone Arsenal on a new manned space craft, and other high-tech hardware for the military. Every soldier, every American is touched by what happens at the Arsenal. That is the legacy. "Number one militarily, technically, technologically. Looking at the future and being able to attract other young people in the nation. We're still the greatest country on the planet, and we will be, with the Lord's help and our own help. And the folks that follow us...we need them to continue to keep the thing moving," says Alex McCool an engineer for both the Army and NASA at Redstone for 50 years.
The bottom line, Redstone Arsenal has been defending America for 75-years and with current missions including everything from Army aviation to space research, the mission will continue.