Auburn Spotlight, Brooks Moore '48

"It was rocketry. I thought that was nothing but far-out thinking that would never happen in my lifetime."
Brooks Moore '48
NASA Emeritus Docent at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center

Spotlight Interview

A few days a week, Brooks Moore can be found at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, the largest spaceflight museum in the world. It is fitting that the renowned exhibition is located in north Alabama – where America’s space program was born, and where it continues to thrive.

Nobody knows Huntsville’s history of spaceflight better than Moore, who today gives tours of the museum’s exhibits including the Saturn V Moon Rocket and America’s first satellite, Explorer I. But they are more than space artifacts to Moore. They are highlights of his career.

An Alabama native, Moore earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Auburn, or API as it was then known, in 1948, as well as a master’s degree from Georgia Tech in 1949. He has called Huntsville home for more than six decades after joining space pioneer Wernher von Braun’s guided missile development team.

“I had an interest early on in aircraft,” Moore said. “Of course, there weren’t any missiles or rockets back then. I did read the comic book ‘Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.’ It was rocketry–it was actually showing these rockets flying around in space. I thought that was nothing but far-out thinking that would never happen in my lifetime.”

Moore was developing underwater mine and torpedo defense systems at the Naval Research Center in Panama City, Florida, when he made the decision to move to Huntsville in 1952. He was one of the first young American engineers hired to work with von Braun and his key specialists from Germany who were brought to the area after World War II and tasked to build a precision guided missile for the Army.

“Huntsville’s Redstone Arsenal was largely unused since the end of WWII and all civilians had been moved off the land much earlier,” Moore said. “It was an ideal place for missile development–lots of space, 50,000 acres. The Army moved the German team here and decided they needed to build it up with younger engineers. At that time, I was 25 years old. I was not fresh out of college like the typical young hires. I had three years of experience and a master’s degree, so I had a little jump ahead of the others. On my very first work assignment in Huntsville, however, I worked with several of the German team members and two young Auburn Engineering graduates.”

The renowned von Braun team spent the decade of the ’50s working for the Army, and had grown into a fairly large operation, with Moore serving as chief of the team’s control section. The unit initially built the 200-mile-range Redstone, the Army’s first surface-to-surface ballistic missile. It proved to be extremely accurate and reliable, and was subsequently deployed to West Germany. After the Redstone success of the early ’50s came the next “big boost in activity,” as Moore said. In early 1956, the Army assigned the team the task of building an intercontinental ballistic missile on an emergency basis.

Read moore about Moore's lengthy career with NASA online