TRIBUTE TO THE REDSTONE
Alex McCool began working on the Redstone engine program at Huntsville in 1954, and six years later he joined NASA in order to continue working with Dr. von Braun on the development of larger launch vehicles, including the mighty Saturn rockets. In later years he became manager of the Space Shuttle Projects Office at Marshall, and in a 2003 interview for the Huntsville Times to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first Redstone rocket, McCool was asked to reflect on the early days of the rocket known as “Old Reliable.”
“Really, that rocket, and the propulsion work that went into it, was the beginning of space for us here,” said McCool. “There wouldn’t have been a space program, or a Space Shuttle or a trip to the Moon without the Redstone. It’s the foundation of what we do today. It was the beginning of the space program for America.
“The Germans had been working on other advanced rockets after they developed the V-2, and the Redstone used a lot of that work. They brought a lot of that material with them. They had been working successfully on rockets throughout the war.
“Early on, von Braun had thought about going into space,” McCool reflected. “He talked about it in public all the time, and the Germans had been working on rocket designs for it. He had worked out plans to modify the Redstone to carry a man early on, in the mid-1950s, while still working for the Army. They’d talked about putting somebody up in space even then.”