Air Force Space & Missile History Center renamed
The Air Force Space & Missile History Center, located near the south gate of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, has been renamed the Sands Space History Center in honor of retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Harry James Sands Jr.
The name became official during a ceremony at 11 a.m. on Oct. 14 in the center’s main hall. It was Sands that laid the groundwork for the history center.
“General Sands didn’t just verbally champion this cause throughout his career, but he embodied it,” said Big. Gen. Wayne Monteith, 45th Space Wing commander. “His passion for preserving and sharing out history with the public was unmatched by any other.”
Sands first proposed the idea of a space museum in 1961. Despite working for more than 30 years, he did not live to see the Air Force Space & Missile History center open. Sands died in 1993.
However, according to a press release by the 45th Space Wing, Sands’ work became a reality when the center opened on Aug 13, 2010.
Sands joined the military in 1939 as a command pilot. In 1945, he helped start the missile development program before being appointed, in 1953, Headquarters Air Force Missile Test Center’s deputy for operations.
After proposing the idea of a museum, he was appointed the museum’s foundation chairman in 1963. According to the 45th Space Wing, lack of funding, along with receiving donations of poorly-conditioned large artifacts, the plan had to be scaled back.
Pressing on, Sands was able to secure $4 million in fundraising over nine months.
“General Sands had a strong vision of what this place could be and his vision continues to grow through the minds and actions of each member supporting this history center today,” Monteith said.
A year after the center opened, it won the U.S. Space Command Space Command Heritage Award. According to the 45th Space Wing, the award was for “outstanding accomplishments in fostering a better understanding and appreciation of the Air Force, its missions, its people and its accomplishments.”
Approval was granted on Aug. 19, 2015, to rename the center. The renaming ceremony took place on what would have been his 101st birthday.
The center, which itself is an extension of the Air Force Space & Missile Museum, contains detailed displays and historic information about each of the launch complexes at Cape Canaveral.