About Us

The Space Age

The Space Age

Much to the shock of the world the Soviet Union launched Sputnik in 1957. In essence, the globe now had a loaded gun pointed at its head. The newly created NASA came to Douglas Tulsa and asked if they could build a rocket capable of putting something into orbit quick. The Space Race had begun.

Out of the need to counter the launching of Sputnik, Douglas Tulsa began work on what would soon be known as the Delta Program. By adding a second and third stage to the Thor Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Douglas Tulsa helped create a rocket capable of putting a U.S. satellite into orbit. Once the concept was proven, the Delta Program was moved to California. The Delta rocket launched America's first telecommunications satellite known as Echo IA.

When President John F. Kennedy made his speech to Congress in 1961 regarding putting a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth, Tulsans took up the challenge when North American Aviation moved into a portion of Air Force Plant #3 and began work on the Saturn V rocket. The day after Kennedy's speech to Congress, The First Peaceful Uses of Space Conference was held at the Tulsa Fairgrounds. Near the end of the Apollo Program work began on the Space Shuttle.

North American Rockwell Tulsa was responsible for construction of all of the cargo bay doors for each of the orbiters. Most recently Tulsans, under the Boeing corporate banner, played a large part in the International Space Station program building eleven of the huge truss sections as well as the Integrated Electrical Assemblies that orient the large solar arrays towards the sun.