Its history is part of the U.S. original missile and space activity, and the introduction of the atomic age. The first atomic bomb was tested here, exploding and testing the world’s first atomic bomb and collecting valuable information with the results.
Today visitors will find a display of missiles and rockets previously tested at the range, which were eventually used to protect our nation.
The original plans for the range started in 1944 and finished in 1945 with General G.M. Barnes contributing to establishing the missile range.
Today the range is testing and evaluating hazardous material, spacecraft components and rocket propulsion systems. Personnel assigned to this facility are experienced in testing, collection and processing of specific types of data and materials.
White Sands Missile Range is a tri-service installation with the Army, Air Force and Navy managing, developing and testing various defense programs. The other tenants include the 46th Test Group, 2nd Engineer Battalion, 746th Test Squadron, and the Army Research Lab.
Under the Office of Secretary of Defense the Center of Countermeasures is responsible for supporting and conducting tests and evaluations. The National Geospatial Intelligence is the range’s expert, collecting information based on gravity, satellite and navigation operations that would impact critical missile responsiveness and performance for national security.
White Sands Missile Range is located near the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico and is the major employer, which is why it’s not surprising to find the majority of community civilians, DoD and military personnel working on site.
The range is located in the county of Doña Ana, surrounded by the Organ Mountain range and offers a variety of outdoor activities from hiking, biking, horseback riding and festivals throughout the year. Just 7 miles from Las Cruces, New Mexico is Picacho Peak, known for its fossils and amazing sunset views.
Communities nearby include Deming with ancient Native American artifacts and home to the second transcontinental railroad as part of its history. More history can found in Silver City and Alamogordo where documents report the existence of former Apache campsites.
As the second largest school district in New Mexico, Las Cruces has over 30 schools, with 24 elementary locations supporting up to the 5th grade, 7 middle schools accommodating 6th – 7th grades and high schools tendering 9th through 12th grade. The range offers childcare for military families with preschool children.
There are also vocational classes for students interested in a technical career with over 20, 000 students attending as an alternative to traditional high school education.
Further education can be obtained at New Mexico’s State University in Las Cruces for continuing students or military personnel; looking to complete their bachelor and graduate degrees.
White Sands Missile Range consists of over 3,000 square miles making it possible to provide on post housing for military personnel stationed to the range.
Transferring personnel need to contact the housing office prior to their arrival due to a housing waiting list. Similar to other military base housing, White Sands Range is privatized housing, managed by the Balfour Beatty Communities.
Temporary housing or lodging can be reserved through the post housing office. Temporary lodging does allow pets with additional charges for sharing your room.