Strategic Air Command
SAC Bases:  Patrick Air Force Base
Location: 2 miles south of Cocoa Beach, Florida.  Its the airbase for Cape Kennedy.
Home of: Air Force Missile Test Center
Status:  Home of 45th Space Wing
Links:  Patrick AFB - Extensive Missile History on this site.
Recent Titan Launch Recent Atlas Launch
      The United States began its missile program shortly after World War II.  One of the first steps in that direction occurred in September 1948, when a deactivated World War II patrol base -- the Banana River Naval Air Station -- was transferred to the Air Force as a base of operations for a joint-service missile range. The Headquarters for the Joint Long Range Proving Ground was set up there on 10 June 1949, but joint management of the Proving Ground proved unwieldy, and the Headquarters was replaced by the Air Force's Long Range Proving Ground Division on 16 May 1950. Under the Air Force's management, the Proving Ground started building launch complexes, missile processing facilities and instrumentation sites at Cape Canaveral.  Out of this evolved Eglin and Patrick Air Force Bases.  
    In the spring of 1950, the Defense Department announced the redelegation of guided missile test centers from joint service commands to separate branches of the military service. As a result of that decision, the Air Force Division, Joint Long Range Proving Ground was redesignated the Long Range Proving Ground Division on 16 May 1950. The Long Range Proving Ground Division replaced the JLRPG Command, and it gained jurisdiction over the launching area at Cape Canaveral and the Bahama downrange facilities. The Long Range Proving Ground Division was given major air command status, and, as such, it reported directly to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. Its mission was to establish, operate and maintain the Long Range Proving Ground.  
On 17 May 1950, the base was renamed the Long Range Proving Ground Base, but that designation lasted less than three months. Effective 1 August 1950, the base was renamed Patrick Air Force Base, in honor of Major General Mason M. Patrick. General Patrick had been Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Services in World War I and Chief of the Air Service/U.S. Army Air Corps from October 1921 until his retirement on 13 December 1927. The official dedication ceremony for the newly named base was held on 26 August 1950.      

The Snark and Navaho prompted expansion of the Eastern Range to Ascension Island in the mid-1950s, but those winged missiles did not become the principal users of the range's most distant outposts. After a slow start, ballistic missile and space programs took root at the Cape and quickly dominated the range after 1957. The Matador, Bomarc, Snark and Navaho were eclipsed by the Army's Jupiter, the Navy's Polaris and the Air Force's Thor, Atlas, Titan and Minuteman ballistic missile programs. The Army Redstone and the Air Force Atlas were also adapted to support NASA's Mercury manned space program in the early 1960s.
    With regard to the range's tracking systems, the Eastern Range was equipped with single-point radars initially. Those radars were designated "MOD I" and "MOD II" radars because they were derived from World War II vintage SCR-584 radar systems. The MOD I was the most economical solution for winged missile requirements, and it was replaced by a MOD II version as winged missile flights continued.

Above: Main Gate, circa 1956
Below: Atlas Missile Launch Complex, circa 1958.
Right: Thor Missile, circa 1958.