A VENTURE INTO EARLY SPACE HISTORY by Ike Rigell
This is a video (courtesy of Frank Bryan) capturing the 57-minute talk by Isom (Ike) Rigell – now 90 years old and a true pioneer of our space program – speaking at our January luncheon. Ike served as a marine in WWII and was part of the assault team at Iwo Jima. If you want to hear real stories about the earliest days of our space program, Ike lived all of them and tells it “like it was”.
After the war, he was assigned to the initial team of Americans who worked with the captured German scientists and engineers brought to this country under Dr. Von Braun along with a trainload of equipment and the remaining V2 rockets they possessed. They started in Texas on a program called Project Paperclip launching V2 rockets from White Sands Proving Ground, moved to Huntsville, Alabama, under the Army’s Ballistic Missile Program (ABMA), and ended up here in Florida on the Redstone Missile Program at the Cape. Ike eventually became second in command to Dr. Hans Gruene – Director of Launch Vehicle Operations and Dr. Debus’ second in command – at what then became the NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center on north Merritt Island. This is his story!
I was also at the Cape during this time…having started with RCA at Patrick AFB. I spent a lot of time later on giving presentations an the space program,; when I left I was Technical Assistant to the Director of Launch Operations.