The renovated DOVAP antenna at White Sands Missile Range Park. Photograph courtesy of Terrie Cornell.
Volunteers Renovate Antenna
Terrie Cornell, Curator
White Sands Missile Range Museum
White Sands Missile Range, NM
White Sands Missile Range Museum has three wonderful volunteers who recently renovated an antenna in the museum’s outdoor missile park. Two year ago, this 1960s Doppler Velocity and Position (DOVAP) Antenna was moved to the missile park from out on the range, but it needed some TLC.
Coincidently, Fred Walters, a devoted museum volunteer and WSMR retiree, designed that DOVAP in the early 1960s. He and his wife Debbie, also retired from WSMR, set about breathing new life into the DOVAP. Thalia Howard, another museum volunteer, turned and shaped twelve new oak arms for the antenna. With a little help from WSMR’s crane operators, Fred and Debbie installed the arms, and then painted the upright support. The DOVAP now resembles its 1965 appearance.
This antenna, like much of the early instrumentation used at White Sands Missile Range, was designed and built there. The DOVAP system provided trajectory data and ground guidance for most of the early rocket systems: Corporal, Sergeant, Honest John, Little John, Redstone, and Aerobee Upper Atmosphere programs.
DOVAP was originally developed during World War II by the Germans as part of a V–2 guidance and control system. It traced the course of a rocket using the Doppler effect caused by a target moving relative to a ground transmitter and receiving stations.
Unlike radar, the 36.9–megahertz helix antenna did not allow scientists to see the rocket on a screen.