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NEWS | Dec. 23, 2020

Space history ties to Randolph Air Force Base

Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

In episode 41 of "The Air Force Starts Here" podcast, it is a look back in history at the Air Force’s role in space here with AETC History and Museums Program Director Gary Boyd and AETC historian Rudy Purificato.

Randolph Air Force Base, now known as Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, has a history steeped in space innovation, which all occurred in building 661. Building 661 was home to the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine and inaugurated the world’s first Department of Space Medicine in 1949.

While there, many space firsts occurred like the first simulated flight to the moon, training of the first primates to go into sub-orbit and orbit, as well as the development of pressurized and heat resistant space suits.

Enlisted contributions to space also started in Building 661 in 1958, with Airman Donald Farrell, who volunteered to be sequestered inside a research chamber nicknamed “Terrella 1” for a simulated flight to the moon. “Terrella 1” can be seen first-hand, free of charge, at the Airman Heritage Museum at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland.

The U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, which started at Brooks Air Force Base and moved to Randolph, moved back to Brooks in 1959, where it resided until 2011 when Brooks closed and the school moved to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

However, according to Boyd, the pioneering work that started and Randolph Air Force Base laid the foundation of what we know of Space today.

Space history continues in Texas with the first seven enlisted Guardians to graduate from Basic Military Training at JBSA-Lackland on Dec. 10, 2020, which is conducted through Air Education and Training Command. AETC provides world-class training and education for our Airmen and Space Professionals to prepare them to adapt, decide, and act at the speed necessary for current competition and future combat. Airmen who are properly trained, educated and developed will accelerate change and out-think and out-perform adversaries.

Building 661 is now home to AETC/A9.