June 30, 1961: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Testing

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The Directorate of Rocket Propulsion began a 90-day feasibility study of its Mojave Concept. The concept grew out of an internal proposal to develop a lightweight, unguided, missile of intercontinental range to be launched into a ballistic trajectory from a large launching tube. Essentially a giant mortar. Both the Mojave Concept and Project Joshua were efforts to demonstrate that the Air Force was capable of developing its own inexpensive “barrage-type” ICBM system to supplement the existing Atlas, Titan, and Minuteman types.

The Air Force Research Laboratory Propulsion Directorate at Edwards Air Force Base, California, existed since 1952. Earlier names of the facility were the Air Force's Astronautics Laboratory, Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory and Air Force Phillips Laboratory. There were three technology directorates present at Edwards supported by an operations directorate.

The workforce at Edwards consists of approximately 500 government and military employees and is supplemented by additional base personnel and on-site contractors.  The 65 square mile laboratory facilities were located about 100 miles north of Los Angeles and in the North-East corner of Edwards Air Force Base. The Phillips Laboratory was one of four technology "Superlabs" in the Air Force Materiel Command and was headquartered at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.   In 1997, the Laboratory was merged into the Air Force Research Laboratory as the Space Vehicles and Directed Energy Directorates. It was located at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Phillips Lab was the sole Air Force entity charged with developing spacecraft and rocket propulsion technologies. A wide range of in-house and contract projects were conducted to perform the basic or fundamental research, exploratory development, and advanced development of these technologies.

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