Jets and Moon Rockets: 1957-1970

North American Rockwell Corp. ... Guidance Breakthroughs

North American's Autonetics division continued to produce electronic products. In addition to thousands of inertial guidance systems, it built a portable office computer and ranging radar for trainers and fighters.

In 1957, an improved version of the N6A all-inertial autonavigator guided the Navaho missile at three times the speed of sound. In 1958, the N6A-1 inertial autonavigator guided the USS Nautilus nuclear-powered submarine for first under-ice passage of the North Pole. Later the same year, the N6A-1 guided the USS Skate nuclear-powered submarine under the polar ice-cap during a winter cruise.

In 1959, the N5G autonavigator was responsible for the first guided flight of the AGM-28A/B Hound Dog missile, and Autonetics delivered the N7A-MK II Mod 0 Ship's Inertial Navigation System (SINS) for the Polaris-missile-carrying submarine USS George Washington.

In 1961, the Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile made its first silo-based flight, guided by Autonetics inertial guidance (N10) and thrust-vector control equipment; two years later, Autonetics installed the N3B stellar inertial subsystem in the RS-70 supersonic bomber. This technology developed into an automatic inertial bombing and navigation system that made the A-5A Vigilante the first production airplane to use inertial navigation.

In 1963, Autonetics researchers found a way to grow silicon crystals on sapphire, leading to lower-cost, more reliable, microelectronic circuits. Milestones also included the monopulse radar system, NASSAR, used on F-104 and F-105 fighter aircraft; the first completely digital flight control system (for the Minuteman ICBM); and the first use of large-scale integrated circuits used in the hand-held calculator (for Hayakawa).

In 1967, North American merged with Rockwell Standard, the world's largest producer of automobile parts. North American Aviation division became the Aerospace and Systems Group, Rockwell Standard divisions became the Commercial Products Group, and the new company was called North American Rockwell Corp.

After the merger, North American's contribution to microelectronics also included MOS-LSI calculators, and Collins Radio, acquired in 1975, was the first to build a fixed ground station for commercial satellite communications. By the mid 1990s, Autonetics would evolve into the Autonetics and Missiles division, developing new products, including infrared, microelectromechanical sensors and millimeter wave radar.

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