The Origin of
"Project Paperclip"
or:  How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb.

After WWII there was a great effort by both the American and Soviet governments to assimilate the wealth of German technological knowledge; in particular their knowledge of liquid propelled rockets.  Under the guidance of Dr. Wernher von Braun a group of German rocket scientists defected to American forces, and were swept away to Fort Bliss in White Sands, New Mexico.  At Fort Bliss this team began work on "Project Paperclip"; laying the ground work for the successful start of the American Space Program.  These engineers were later moved to Redstone Arsenal just outside the sleepy southern town of  Huntsville, Alabama.  At Redstone Arsenal they created the Redstone Rocket (a ballistic missile), which relied heavily on the earlier work from the V-2 test-bed at White Sands.  This rocket was later modified . . . the warhead removed . . . the payload exchanged . . . with a space capsule.  This Mercury-Redstone rocket took the first American, Alan Shepard, into space.  Although this project was conceived to produce ballistic missiles for the DOD, these original scientist made the push to create NASA, and further the pursuit of space exploration.  In my mind . . . "Project Paperclip", and the diligent work of that team started it all.

The following is an except from an article posted on the NASA site that relates some of the interesting facts leading up to the founding of "Project Paperclip."  If you are interested in viewing it in the context of the entire article, please feel free to follow this link.

"The story of German achievements in military rocketry during the late thirties and early forties at Peenemuende, the vast military research installation on the Baltic Sea, is well known.  Knowing Goddard's work only through his published findings, the German experimenters contrived and elaborated on nearly all of the American's patented technical innovations, including gyroscopic controls, parachutes for rocket recovery, and movable deflector vanes in the exhaust. The rocket specialists at Peenemuende were trying to create the first large, long-range military rocket. By 1943, after numerous frustrations, they had their "big rocket," 46 feet long by 11½ feet in diameter, weighing 34,000 pounds when fueled, and producing 69,100 pounds of thrust from a single engine consuming liquid oxygen and a mixture of alcohol and water. Called "Assembly-4" (A-4) by the Peenemuende group, the rocket had a range of nearly 200 miles and a maximum velocity of about 3,500 miles per hour, and was controlled by its gyroscope and exhaust deflector vanes, sometimes supplemented by radio control.  When Major General Walter Dornberger, commander of the army works at Peenemuende, pronounced the A-4 operational in 1944, Joseph Goebbels' propaganda machine christened it Vergeltungswaffe zwei (Vengeance Weapon No. 2), or "V-2."  But for the space-travel devotees at Peenemuende the rocket remained the A-4, a step in the climb toward space.

Although the total military effect of the 3,745 V-2s fired at targets on the Continent and in England was slight, this supersonic ballistic missile threw a long shadow over the future of human society. As the Western Allies and the Soviets swept into Germany, they both sought to confiscate the elements of the German rocket program in the form of records, hardware, and people. Peenemuende was within the Russian zone of occupation, but before the arrival of the Soviet forces von Braun and most of the other engineers and technicians fled westward with a portion of their technical data. The Americans also captured the underground V-2 factory in the Harz Mountains; 100 partially assembled V-2s were quickly dismantled and sent to the United States. Ultimately von Braun and about 125 other German rocket specialists reached this country under "Project Paperclip," carried out by the United States Army."

So in the spirit of exploration and discovery, We the team, have dubbed ourselves "Project Paperclip."

In the words of Paul Harvey, "That's the rest of the story . . . . Good Day!"

The original Project Paperclip Team at Fort Bliss in White Sands, New Mexico.