The Daily Mining Gazette, November 22, 1965



The Space Defense Corporation rockets which were to be sent aloft by a delegation of the firm’s men and Dr. Harold Allen of the University of Michigan didn’t go into the Copper Harbor-Keweenaw point skies yesterday because of rough seas having snapped part of the actuating line.

The tow, which involved the launching platform, had sustained rough seas en route from Copper Harbor and it was believed last evening that a strand in the cable might have separated or that some similar occurance took place.

The rocket delegation departed from Copper Harbor for the Point about 1 p.m. Heavy seas were faced almost immediately as the ship began its trip. The Coast Guard personnel, to number of four, working along with the rocket men, said that the sea swells were as high as 10 feet.

The 44 foot CG vessel moved to a point almost directly in the vicinity of Manitou Island and Keweenaw Point.

About 3:30 in the afternoon Dr. Harold Allen advised Space Defense staffer Mike Brian to begin the firing.

After plunging for rocket No. 1 he found there was no response. The same situation prevailed for the remaining three missiles.

The firing range was out in open Lake Superior region with lake’s shipping having been advised of the attempt at shooting.

When there was no response after the four rockets had been given the impulse. Dr. Allen ordered the CG craft to “head for home."

Ten men were aboard the little ship on the voyage. Four represented the Coast Guard, two were delegates from Space Defense, one was a University of Michigan man, one was out of the Naval Headquarters in Minneapolis, and two were photographers and writers.

It was a thoroughly dark and black Copper Harbor when the delegation returned.

Dr. Allen was disappointed over the turn of events but indicated no great remorse in that these represent problems consistently involved in missile work.

It was his opinion that if things could be righted today, Wednesday, the boat again would go out in an attempt to witness a successful firing.

Lenard Williams assisted Brian in the tow work of the firing platform while Rick Lane remained on the shore station conversing with Guy Snyder of the Calumet Radar Station.

No steamers were seen along the 0ff-Manitou Island route. Prospective craft had been apprised of the attempt at rocket shooting but this was not the only reason for the absence of ships. There just are not many out at this particular time of year. Copper Harbor and all the northeast Keweenaw Peninsula shoreline is snow covered. The trip made it easy to visualize the problems ship crews had in the past when making the run between the Soo and Duluth. The Keweenaw Point juts out into the mostly northerly U.S. regions of Lake Superior and it is conceded that its waters are some of the roughest outside Lake Erie.

It was a dejected passenger list which arrived back in Copper Harbor late in the evening. They were chagrined after not having successfully fired the rockets but still were undaunted as to ultimate success which the men expect to achieve today on a second trip.

The missiles were slated to go aloft last Wednesday but weather factors prohibited the ascents. The weather was not good on Tuesday but inasmuch as time now is passing the delegation decided to fire away, notwithstanding.

The skipper of the Coast Guard’s 44-footer on the eventful unsuccessful trip was Edward Vondell. Ted Collins was the engineer while Howard Junkin and Rodney Oltmans also served with the crew.

The contingent remained at Copper Harbor all night in order to be ready for a run to the Point if it were to be made today.

The wind velocity today is about 10 miles per hour but Tuesday afternoon off Copper Harbor the velocity was indicated as being as high as 30 miles per hour.

Space Defense Corporation President Mal Ross was not with yesterday’s contingent in that he was compelled to remain close to his Birmingham official headquarters.

The outside group is lodging in Copper Harbor while Guy Snyder, a communications man with the Keweenaw Radar Base at Gratiot Lake, resides in the Mohawk area.


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