During this week, May 19-22, 1997, a number of special events will be taking place in Huntsville, AL, to celebrate this important anniversary. I wish to express my congratulations to the Army community in Huntsville for their splendid record of achievement in space and missile defense, and to ask my colleagues to join me saluting them for what this has meant to our Nation's security.
The U.S. Army led the nation into space and ballistic missile defense [BMD] in 1957 with the authorization to proceed with the launch of an artificial satellite and the start of development of the Nike Zeus BMD system. The Army Ballistic Missile Agency successfully launched the free world's first artificial satellite in 1958, only 89 days after receiving the go-ahead, restoring America's leadership in space exploration following the Soviet Sputnik launch 3 months earlier.
The Huntsville BMD team performed the first demonstration of a successful intercept of an ICBM class ballistic missile in 1962, deployed the first and only BMD system in the United States, conducted the first nonnuclear intercept of an ICBM in 1984, and carried out the first and the largest number of intercepts of tactical ballistic missiles , including the spectacular performance of the Patriot system against Scud rockets during Desert Storm.
The U.S. Army role in space has continued to provide significant contributions to battlefield communications, precise detection, tracking of threatening missiles , and a host of space-based capabilities tailored for the war-fighter on the ground.
The Huntsville team has made significant contributions to BMD technology, including development of nuclear and nonnuclear interceptors and kill vehicles; advanced BMD radar and optical sensors; the first BMD computer, associated software and a long progression of innovations in BMD computational capabilities; and lastly, a wide range of BMD phenomenology, components and techniques.
In view of their long record of outstanding achievements, the future of military space and BMD lies to a large extent in the hands of the men and women who work in the Army organizations in Huntsville, together with their industry team mates.
Mr. President, I salute Huntsville and the hard-working men and women of that great community. Most importantly, I wish to extend a warm and hearty congratulations to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense team for a job well done, and best wishes for its continued success now and during the next 40 years.