January 2, 1945: First Large-Thrust Rocket Motor Test Station

  • Published
  • US Army Air Forces

The California Institute of Technology Research and Development Service Sub-Office (Rocket) received approval to establish the nation’s first large-thrust rocket motor test station. The test stand and its related facilities would be built on land adjoining the Materiel Command Flight Test Base at the north end of the Muroc Dry Lakebed. The new facility was built to test the 20,000-pound-thrust Corporal rocket motor, the first motor of its size designed and built in the United States. The rocket development office soon was renamed the CalTech Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) s a private research university in Pasadena, California. The university is known for its strength in science and engineering, and is one among a small group of institutes of technology in the United States which is primarily devoted to the instruction of pure and applied sciences.  Caltech was founded as a preparatory and vocational school by Amos G. Throop in 1891 and began attracting influential scientists such as George Ellery Hale, Arthur Amos Noyes and Robert Andrews Millikan in the early 20th century. The vocational and preparatory schools were disbanded and spun off in 1910 and the college assumed its present name in 1920. In 1934, Caltech was elected to the Association of American Universities, and the antecedents of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which Caltech continues to manage and operate, were established between 1936 and 1943 under Theodore von Kármán.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is the leading U.S. center for robotic exploration of the solar system, and has 19 spacecraft and 10 major instruments carrying out planetary, Earth science and space-based astronomy missions.


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