North American Aviation ... Computerized Guidance
In 1947, North American built the kinetic double-integrating accelerometer (KDIA), an application of computing functions used in the German V-2 rocket. KDIA was the first major advance in guidance systems since the V-2 and provided an accurate measure of distance traveled. It made long-range, inertial (computerized) guidance possible.
North American scientists with the company's post-World War II Technical Research Laboratory test-fired V-2 rocket engines in the company's Los Angeles parking lot. These early tests gathered data for the April 22, 1946, contract for the Navaho intercontinental supersonic cruise missile for the U.S. Air Force, as well as breakthroughs in computerized guidance systems.
North American launched the first airplane flight of an inertial autonavigator (XN-1) in 1950 and the first flight of an all-solid-state computer (for the Navaho Guidance System) in 1955.
North American's scientists continued to break new ground as they used emerging electronic technologies to guide, manage and build propulsion systems. The first Navaho test missile, the Nativ, was tested at a new facility in the Santa Susana Mountains of California. This site became the country's first liquid-propellant high-thrust rocket engine test facility, later known as Rocketdyne's Santa Susana Field Laboratory. Nativ included a 32-channel telemetry system to transmit data from missile sensors. These data would be fed into an analog computer to refine the final design.
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