Museum Receives Rare Historic Atlas Rocket Film Collection -- Only One of its Kind in the World

In addition to the film, $50,000 to preserve and catalog this collection was provided to the Museum by Lockheed Martin and ULA, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Company.

Lockheed Martin Corporation’s heritage companies include the General Dynamics Space Systems division that was originally headquartered in San Diego, CA, where over 500 Atlas ICBM and space launch vehicles were designed and built. In 1994, the space division was acquired by Martin Marietta and the following year Martin Marietta joined Lockheed to form Lockheed Martin. Following this merger Lockheed Martin donated a significant archive of historic photos and films to the Museum. The records gained at that time constituted an unprecedented historic treasure, consisting of 165,000 Atlas images, as well as 77,750 Convair aircraft images and 3,500 corporate images. The film collection most recently acquired complements the earlier Atlas collection donation.

ULA was formed in December 2006 by Lockheed Martin and The Boeing Company and provides the nation assured access to space on its Atlas and Delta launch vehicles. Since it was formed, ULA has launched 75 consecutive, successful missions – 32 of which were Atlas V launches.

“United Launch Alliance is very proud to make this priceless collection of Atlas history available to the museum and the public,” said Matthew Smith, ULA’s vice president of engineering and information technology. “This history of the Atlas rocket is remarkable and a testament to our nation’s resilience in leading the world into space.” Smith, who began his career with the Atlas program in 1983 as an engineer for the Convair division of General Dynamics, added that it also is gratifying to be launching the evolved version of the rocket – the Atlas V.

“Over more than 50 years, Atlas has played a critical role in defending our country, furthering our knowledge of the universe and supporting human spaceflight. United Launch Alliance continues the tradition of excellence, delivering many of the nation’s most critical and prized assets into space on Atlas V as well as our Delta family of launch vehicles.”

Katrina Pescador, Director of the Library & Archives at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, said she was most pleased to receive this important, one-of-a-kind collection. “It is especially noteworthy, and captures a very important and remarkable period of San Diego’s air and space history. It is a perfect complement and companion to the historic photos and films Lockheed Martin donated to the Museum in 1994. Once digitized, we expect there will be a high level of researcher interest, worldwide, and will significantly broaden our online successes.”

The San Diego Air & Space Museum’s Library & Archives houses one of the most significant collections of air and space-related research material in the world. The Museum’s holdings, in fact, are the third largest such collection in the United States. The Museum actively encourages use of our records to continue and to enhance the public’s education within the aviation and space history and technology fields.

The San Diego Air & Space Museum is California's official air and space museum and education center. The Museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, and it was the first aero-themed Museum to be accredited by the American Association of Museums. Now showing: Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, a special exhibition exploring the weird and wacky world of Robert Ripley. Visit for more information. The Museum is located at 2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA 92101. The Museum and gift store are open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with admissions until 4:00 p.m. (winter hours) and 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (summer hours). Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

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