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History


This page helps preserve and provide the general public-at-large with the history of the Space and Missile Systems Center and Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. Here you'll find research papers, podcasts, transcripts and images spanning more than 60 years of Air Force space and missile history.

Explore the history of the Space and Missile Systems Center by listening to these podcasts on your computer, in your car or while walking around the SMC Heritage Center exhibits! With the SMC History Lecture Series podcast, you can learn about Space and Missile Systems Center history from historians, authors, active duty or retired military members, and specialists in research, development and technology.

During the SMC Heritage Center Audio Tour, you'll enjoy background information about the space and missile artifacts on display at the SMC Heritage Center and learn about the people who developed them and the crews that operated them. Click on the links below to listen to individual podcasts.

Schriever Wall of Honor

In 2007, the Air Force Association's Schriever Chapter 147, with support from industry partners, sponsored and commissioned the Statue of General Bernard A. Schriever.  In November 2007, the Space & Missile Systems Center dedicated the Statue and Wall as the General Schriever Memorial. The 60th SMC Anniversary in 2014 was chosen as the initial occasion to recognize some of the earliest pioneers who have made tremendous contributions to our community by adding their names to the Schriever Wall of Honor. Every year additional pioneers are chosen to have their names added to the Schriever Wall of Honor and SMC personnel, Aerospace Corporation, Industry members and community gather to unveil the Wall of Honor in tribute to these pioneers of military space.

 

2014 Inductees

2015 Inductees

2016 Inductees

2017 Inductees

2018 Inductees

 

SMC HISTORY SNAPSHOT

The Space Systems Division, one of SMC’s predecessor organizations, worked with the National Reconnaissance Office to manage and develop the Manned Orbiting Laboratory in the 1960s.  MOL might have been the world’s first long-term space station, but it was never launched.

SSD developed the MOL’s laboratory and launch vehicle for the Air Force, while NRO developed the classified reconnaissance camera system.  In March 1965, SSD awarded contracts for MOL’s preliminary design work to Douglas Aircraft, Lockheed, Boeing and General Electric.  Seventeen military officers had assignments in Los Angeles to be trained as MOL astronauts.

DoD planned to launch five MOL spacecraft between 1968-1970.  The lab had a pressurized, shirt-sleeve environment that didn’t require space suits) while it maintained a near-earth orbit for up to 30 days.  Upon the mission’s completion, the 2-man crew would return to earth in the attached Gemini space capsule and the lab would burn up in reentry. Unfortunately, the MOL program faced mission changes and delays, and incurred significant cost increases.

In June 1969, DoD cancelled the MOL program due to high projected cost increases, and because advances in automated, unmanned space systems made MOL unnecessary.  Among the former MOL astronauts, three became flag officers and seven became astronauts on the Space Shuttle.