In the White Sands Missile Range Museum and park in New Mexico, you will not only learn about America’s missile and space activity or how the atomic age began, you will also see a wide range of missile and rocket displays at the park. I have visited the place twice and each visit brought new experiences.

When you visit the missile park, expect to see these:

The Multiple Launch Rocket System consisted of a self-propelled vehicle which carried two pods, each containing six rockets. The free-flight rockets broke open over the target area to dispense different types of submunitions ranging from hundreds of bomblets to a small number of anti-vehicle weapons. Thousands of rounds were convincingly fired during Desert Storm in 1991. U.S. Army

Length: 13 feet
Diameter: 9 inches
Range: Greater than 18 miles
Propellant: Solid
First Firing: 1977
Multiple Launch Rocket System

The TOW Missile. The name is an acronym for “Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire guided” missile. This anti-tank missile actually unravelled spools of wire which stayed connected to the gunner’s sight until the missile hit the target. Directional guidance commands were sent over the wires. U.S. Army

Length: 48 inches
Diameter: 6 inches
Weight: 42 pounds
Range: 10,000 feet
Propellant: Solid
First Firing: 1967

TOW Missile

The Lance was the first Army missile to use prepackaged storable liquid propellant. It had a self-propelled launcher and could operate in all types of weather. U.S. Army

Length: 20 feet
Diameter: 22 inches
Weight: 3,300 pounds
Propellant: Liquid
Range: 75 miles
First Firing: 1965

The Lance rocket

The IGOR (“eye-gore”) is a tracking telescope designed to provide photographic records of missile performance, such as attitude, intercept miss-distance, and other events data. With its long focal length lens, the IGOR could photograph missiles up to 100 miles away. The IGOR (Intercept Ground Optical Recorder) consists of a telescope optical system, a high-speed movie camera, sighting telescopes, and the instrument mount. The mount is a modified U.S. Navy 5-inch/25 Mark 19 Navy gun mount adapted to hold the telescope. Two trackers sit on opposite sides of the mount and move the telescope and camera in azimuth (side to side) and elevation (up and down). Designed and built by the Army’s Ballistic Research Laboratory (BRL) in Aberdeen, Maryland, using an optical system specified by Clyde Tombaugh, the first IGOR was installed at WSMR in October 1951. It was first used to track an Army Corporal missile on 6 December 1951. On display here is model number two, installed in late 1951. It was followed by eight more IGORs emplaced around WSMR. These tracking telescopes were used extensively through 1965. In 1952, the crew of this IGOR No. 2 took a photograph of the first Armed Live Warhead Intercept a B-17 bomber by a Nike Ajax missile. Their photograph won the Ernie Pyle Award for outstanding still photo in support of national security.

Igor Camera

Beech Model MQM-61A Cardinal Drone was a simple monoplane, powered by a 125 hp McCulloch engine driving a two-blade propeller. It could tow banners or targets, with two targets under each wing. It could fly as high as 43,000 feet at a top speed of 350 mph. The Cardinal was used by the Army from 1958 for surface-to-air anti-aircraft missile and gunnery training. In June 1963, the Cardinal was designated as MQM-61A. When production ended in 1972, more than 1300 Cardinals had been built for the Army. At White Sands, the first Cardinal was launched in 1965, according to the firing records. Between 1965 and 1977, 646 MQM-61A Cardinals were fired against missiles under test.

Length: 15 ft.
Wingspan: 13 ft.
Weight: 664 lb
Speed: 350 mph
Ceiling: 43,000 ft
Endurance: 60 min
First firing: 1958

Cardinal Drone

Nike Hercules was the second generation air-defense missile system for the U.S. It was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and blasting whole formations of aircraft out of the air. In testing it successfully intercepted short range ballistic missiles. U.S. Army.

Length: 41 feet
Diameter: 31.5 inches
Weight: 10,000 pounds
Range: Greater than 75 miles
Altitude: 30 miles
First Firing: 1955

Nike Hercules

Pepp Aeroshell. This vehicle was used to test the parachute NASA planned to use to “soft land” the Viking on Mars. To simulate the thin Martian atmosphere the parachute needed to be used at an altitude more than 160,000 feet above the earth. A balloon launched from Roswell, N.M. was used to initially lift the aeroshell. The balloon drifted west to the missile range where the vehicle was dropped and the engines beneath the vehicle boosted it to the required altitude where the parachute was deployed. The tests were conducted in the summer of 1966.

Pepp Aeroshell

Pogo Hi. These small rockets were used to carry a 24-foot metallized parachute or instrumentation package to altitudes above 50,000 feet. After being ejected at peak altitude the parachute or signals from the instrumentation would appear as an aerial target on radar screens. The rocket was developed by the Physical Science Laboratory of New Mexico State University. U.S. Navy

Length: 14 feet
Diameter: 6 inches
Weight: 270 pounds
Propellant: Solid
Ceiling: 120,000 feet
First Fired: 1954


QH-50 DASH. Developed in the 1950s, the U.S. Navy’s QH-50 DASH (Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter) was the first, and so far only, operational unmanned helicopter designed for a combat role. The DASH program had its roots in the late 1950s, when the U.S. Navy sought a way to upgrade its World War II-era destroyers to effectively counter the Soviet submarine threat. In April 1958, Gyrodyne received a contract to redesign its manned helicopter so it could be flown remotely from the deck of a destroyer carrying a torpedo. The result was the QH-50, which first flew with a safety pilot on board in 1959, while the first unmanned flight succeeded in August 1960.

Over the next decade, nearly 800 QH-50s were built, using various engines. While primarily designed for operation from a ship, the QH-50 could also be controlled from another manned aircraft or a mobile ground vehicle. It demonstrated that unmanned helicopters could drop sonobuoys and flares, perform rescues, transport cargo, illuminate targets at night, and lay down smokescreens. When equipped with TV cameras, it could also perform surveillance and target spotting.

QH-50 production ended in 1969, and in 1970 the whole DASH program was cancelled altogether. Starting in 1973, the remaining QH-50s were used as target drones on White Sands Missile Range for surface-to-air and air-to-air missile training. The QH-50s were modified to carry tow targets so that the drone itself would only seldom be shot down. These target-towing drones are currently under the control of the U.S. Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training & Instrumentation (PEO-STRI), and are still in use at WSMR.

LENGTH: 7 ft. 7 in.
WINGSPAN: 20 ft.
WEIGHT: 2330 lbs
SPEED: 92 knots
CEILING: 16,000 ft.
ENDURANCE: 90 minutes
FIRST FIRING: April 1965
RANGE: 40 nautical miles


Shillelagh. A surface-to-surface missile system designed to be carried on tanks and light armored assault vehicles. It was effective against tanks and field fortifications. After being fired the missile could be guided to the target by a command system mounted on the launch vehicle. U.S. Army

Length: 45 inches
Diameter: 6 inches
Weight: 60 pounds
Propellant: Solid
Range: 1 mile
First Firing: 1961

Here are few photos inside the museum.

museum museum3

These are just a few of the missiles and rockets you’ll see. Visit White Sands Missile Range! It is located in south-central New Mexico off US Highway 70 between Las Cruces and Alamogordo. The White Sands Missile Range Museum is located just inside the Las Cruces/Alamogordo Main Post Gate on the left.

Information Source: White Sands Missile Range website.

Admission fee.

Admission is FREE.

Hours and contact.

Hours on weekdays are 8:00 am to 4:00 pm and 10:00 am to 3:00 pm Saturday. Closed Sunday and Holidays. The Missile Park is open dawn to dark seven days a week. For more information concerning events call the White Sands Missile Range Museum (575) 678-8800, or e-mail

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