10. Letter From McElroy to Eisenhower1
A short summary of progress during December 1957 on the ballistic missile programs is attached.
December was the most active and successful month to date in the ballistic missile flight test program. An ATLAS ICBM was launched on 17 December and all flight test objectives were achieved by this third flight test ATLAS missile. This was the first successful flight of our intercontinental ballistic missile. A THOR IRBM, the tenth THOR flight test missile, was successfully flight tested on 19 December. All sub-systems functioned perfectly and the IRBM impacted within approximately three nautical miles of the target at a range of approximately 1,200 nautical miles. This was the first completely successful flight with full inertial guidance. Two other flight tests of a THOR and a JUPITER were partially successful. A flight test of a POLARIS development test vehicle also successfully achieved all test objectives.
All ballistic missile programs except that of TITAN have been accelerated. The presently estimated initial operational capability dates by missile system are:
THOR and JUPITER—December, 1958
POLARIS—October, 1960 (date of completion of the first missile/submarine system)
During calendar year 1957, no new technical obstacles appeared and significant advances were made in resolving previously anticipated difficulties.
With great respect, I am
- Source: Transmittal letter for progress report on ballistic missile programs. Secret. 1 p. Eisenhower Library, White House Office Files, Additional Records of the Office of the Special Assistant for Science and Technology.↩