When the Cold War erupted, John Sparkman worked with the federal government to reopen the arsenal for operation again. The focus of Redstone Arsenal shifted to the manufacturing of guided missiles and rockets. German rocket engineer, Wernher von Braun, and his team members relocated to Huntsville to develop the United States’ first functional ballistic missile in 1958, known as the Redstone Rocket. Derived from this rocket, the Jupiter C missile launched America’s first satellite, Explorer 1, into space. This major technological advancement sparked the space race between the U.S. and the USSR.
In 1960, the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center finished construction within Redstone Arsenal. Teams of scientists began a nine-year long race to the moon against the Soviet Union. The Saturn V rocket took the first astronauts to the moon in 1969. At this same time, engineers at Redstone Arsenal developed antiaircraft and antitank missiles, which were engaged in the Vietnam War. Further, in the 1990s, Redstone designed the Patriot missiles to be employed in the aerial defense of Saudi Arabia and Israel during the Gulf Wars.
Today, Redstone Arsenal is Huntsville's top employer, commissioning around 38,000 employees. The economic impact Redstone Arsenal continues to have on Huntsville is astonishing, as well as the immense cultural and social impacts. Redstone Arsenal attracts scientists and engineers from all over the world. In addition, hundreds of international students are brought in by the University of Alabama in Huntsville, supplying future employees for the Marshall Space Flight Center and Redstone Arsenal's missile production teams. Redstone Arsenal has maintained its reputation as a crucial facility for the United States’ Army, while also improving the economic and cultural environment of the city of Huntsville.
- Huntsville Business Journal: https://huntsvillebusinessjournal.com/lead/2020/05/20/redstone-arsenal-showing-resilience-in-the-time-of-covid-19/
- “Redstone Arsenal,” Encyclopedia of Alabama: http://encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1882