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San Diego Air & Space Museum Receives Archive Of Atlas Rocket Program History

Above: The Atlas rocket was designed and built in San Diego. It became the primary booster for intercontinental ballistic missiles and early manned space missions.

The San Diego Air & Space Museum has received about 3,000 reels of 16-millimeter film on the Atlas rocket program along with $50,000 from Lockheed Martin and the United Launch Alliance.

The film is being digitized and will be made available online, museum officials said.

Courtesy San Diego Air & Space Museum

The San Diego Air & Space Museum received about 3,000 reels of 16-millimeter film on the Atlas rocket program along with $50,000 from Lockheed Martin and the United Launch Alliance.

The Atlas rocket was designed and built in San Diego. It became the primary booster for intercontinental ballistic missiles and early manned space missions.

The collection includes interviews and lectures by early rocket pioneers, presidential and early astronaut visits to Atlas facilities and film documentation of many of America's historic space missions.

The collection includes data, photographs and film of virtually every launch over more than 50 years of the Atlas program, museum officials said.

"It is especially noteworthy, and captures a very important and remarkable period of San Diego's air and space history," said Katrina Pescador, the museum's director of the Library and Archives.

"It is a perfect complement and companion to the historic photos and films Lockheed Martin donated to the museum in 1994," Pescador said. "Once digitized, we expect there will be a high level of researcher interest, worldwide, and will significantly broaden our online successes."

More than 500 Atlas rockets were built in San Diego, according to the museum. Besides the early manned space missions, the Atlas launched the Surveyor missions that led to the moon landings, the Mariner probes of Mars and other planets, critical national security missions, weather and climate monitoring satellites, and vital communications and navigation satellites such as the Global Positioning Satellite system.

Lockheed Martin, through a variety of mergers over the decades, has acquired a massive collection of artifacts, many of which have been donated to the museum.

The ULA is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Company that designs, builds and launches the Atlas and Delta rockets that perform missions for the Department of Defense, NASA, the National Reconnaissance Office and commercial customers.

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