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The Associated Press January 17, 2006

Pioneer in Solid-Fuel Rock Technology Dies

By Robert Burns

Col. Edward N. Hall, who as director of the Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile program helped develop the country's solid-fuel rocket technology, putting the U.S. decades ahead of other superpowers, has died. He was 91.

Hall died Sunday at Torrance Memorial Medical Center, said his daughter, Sheila Hall. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Hall's immense knowledge of rocket propellants helped the Air Force create its first solid-fuel ICBM in the late 1950s. The switch from liquid fuel to solid made missiles smaller, easier to deploy and less expensive.

The Minuteman became the country's premier missile defense system. It took countries such as the former Soviet Union and China decades to create similar programs.

"It's on a short list of military marvels of the 20th century ... right up there with the Manhattan Project," John Pike, director of the military information Web site, globalsecurity.org, said of the accomplishments of Hall and those he worked with.

Hall was born in New York City in 1914 and received a bachelor's degree in engineering from City College of New York in 1935. He later earned a master's in aeronautical engineering from California Institute of Technology.

After enlisting in the Army Air Corps during World War II, he was deployed to England where he repaired U.S. aircraft. Near the war's end he was assigned to acquire intelligence on Germany's rocket propulsion equipment and studied parts recovered from V-2 rockets.

After the war, Hall was assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, where he worked on liquid-fueled rocket engines. While there, he built a rocket that had a thrust of 135,000 pounds — more than double the power exerted by the German V-2.

Hall left the Air Force in 1959 and spent 14 years as an engineer at United Aircraft Corp. In retirement, he was a consultant for engineering and aerospace companies.

 


Copyright 2006, The Associated Press