October 3rd - The Aiken Relay Calculator
It was in October of 1944, seventy-eight years ago, that the Bureau of Ordnance authorized Captain David Hedrick to contract with Harvard University for the design and construction of a controlled sequence calculator (a very early version of a computer), to be designed and built by Howard H. Aiken for the proving ground. The Aiken Relay Calculator Mark II was delivered to Dahlgren in March of 1948. Until 1945, “computer” was a job description for a person who performed mathematical operations for large-scale projects.
Image: Data processors with the Aiken Relay Calculator. (U. S. Navy Photo)
October 10th - First Shot Fired on the Dahlgren Base
Now and then our neighbors flock to Facebook with questions like: “Did you hear that loud boom? What was it?” Did you ever wonder when those loud booms began on base?
The first shot ever fired at Dahlgren took place on October 16, 1918, when Marines supervised by Lieutenant Commander H. K. Lewis successfully test fired an Army 7” / 45 tractor-mounted gun.
To find out if those loud booms you hear might be coming from the Dahlgren base, you can check the Dahlgren Range Schedule online.
Image: Photo of the successful firing of the Army 7”/45 tractor-mounted gun, 1918. (US Navy Photo)
October 17th - Space-Related Work at Dahlgren
When it comes to space-related studies, you probably already know that NASA has a research facility in Hampton, Virginia, but did you know that there are space-related studies going on right here in King George?
The Naval Space Command, headquartered in Dahlgren, was commissioned on October 1, 1983. It operated U. S. Space Command’s Alternate Space Operations Center and space surveillance networks, as well as supporting the Navy’s operations. It was officially disestablished in 2002, but in 2004 portions were transferred to Air Force Space Command’s 20th Space Control Squadron.
Would you like to learn more about the space-related work going on at Dahlgren today? Come join us this Wednesday, October 19th, to hear Lt. Col. Jonathan Smith, USSF, 19th Space Defense Squadron, talk about his command’s mission.
October 24th - Sputnik I Launch Fuels Drive to Track Artificial Objects in Space
Last week, Lt. Col. Jonathan Smith spoke about the history of the United States’ space surveillance operations, from the forerunner to the Space Command up through the 19th Space Defense Squadron’s current work. If you didn’t get to attend, you may not know what event led to the creation of such operations.
On October 4, 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik I, the first artificial earth satellite, into orbit. The United States, which had hoped to reach such a milestone first, panicked. This fueled the drive not only to launch a U. S. satellite, but to develop the capabilities to track and study artificial objects in space.
Caption: Replica of Sputnik I (NASA image)
October 31st - Bennie Harris' Bicycle Record
In October of 1968, Bennie Harris reached his golden anniversary at Dahlgren. You may be wondering: “What is so remarkable about that, other than the length of time spent working in one place?”
Harris, who started working at Dahlgren in 1918, rode his bicycle the three miles to and from work every day of those fifty years. During that time, he wore out thirteen bicycles and only used forty hours of sick leave!