Optical Instrumentation at
Welcome to White Sands Missile Range - the home of the greatest problem solvers of the 20th century.

The Role of Instrumentation

What is this thing called "instrumentation" and why was it needed?

Who were these "Problem Solvers"?

Learn about key WSMR staff whose research in optics pushed the science ahead.

The Red Butte Site

What did a typical instrumentation site look like? What did it do?

Where is that Missile Going?

Learn about the importance of cinetheodolites in tracking position.

What is that Missile Doing?

See tracking telescopes in action and learn how pivotal their precision was.

What about all this heat and sand?

Learn about the structures used in instrumentation.


White Sands Missile Range, started as White Sands Proving Ground, provided the United States with a near-perfect environment for developing and testing the country‚Äôs nascent rocket and missile technology. Remote and isolated by geography, sparsely populated, and with clear weather almost year-round, WSMR became a key ordnance testing facility for the U.S. Military during the Cold War. The rockets and missiles themselves were only half the story, however, as missiles in flight proved to be difficult test subjects.  Researchers adapted the latest camera and telescope technologies of the day as a way to answer the questions that arose during test flights such as:

 Where did it go? What did it do?

Explore the world of instrumentation at White Sands Missile Range by tapping below...