In 1945, the United States Army liberated Dr. Wernher von Braun and his rocket team, which had developed the infamous V-2 Rocket; brought them to the United States; and settled them in White Sands, New Mexico. In 1949, this team was transferred to, what is now named, Redstone Arsenal where they continued work on ballistic missiles, naming one of their early successes "Redstone."
When the Navy tried and failed to launch a satellite using the Vanguard as a booster and the Russians successfully orbited Sputnik, von Braun offered to orbit America's first satellite. Given the go-ahead, the Army successfully orbited Explorer I aboard a modified Redstone rocket.
Subsequently, the United States broadened and expanded the charter of the old National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA) to become National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA then established a number of field centers, one of which became the MFSC, located as a tenant on Redstone Arsenal. Dr. von Braun and part of his team were transferred to MSFC to work on space boosters, with their work resulting in the Saturn Boosters that put men on the moon and creating the first manned space station, Skylab.
The remainder of the team, plus American engineers, continued to work on ballistic missiles (both tactical and strategic) for the Army. Jupiter, an intermediate-range ballistic missile, was deployed in Italy and Turkey and later deactivated in exchange for Russia withdrawing missiles from Cuba in 1961. Pershing was deployed in Western Europe in the 80s in response to the Soviet deployment of a destabilizing IRBM, the SS-20.
Army expertise at Redstone progressed from ballistic missiles to tactical surface-air, air-air, surface-surface, and missile defense systems. Air defense missiles included short-range Redeye and Stinger and longer range Nike, HAWK, and PATRIOT, as well as the first anti-ballistic missiles, Spartan and Sprint. Surface-surface missiles include short, medium, and long range from 500-meter antitank missiles to 100-plus-kilometer guided artillery rockets.
In parallel with work on tactical and strategic offensive missiles, a Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (now designated SMDC) was established 40 years ago to work on ballistic missile defense technology and systems. Sprint and Spartan resulted from this work. They were deployed in 1973 and then decommissioned because of the START I Treaty. Nevertheless, technology work continued that is now the basis for the Missile Defense Agency's Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, to be deployed initially in 2004.