Higher, Faster, Further: 1970-1996

McDonnell Douglas Corp. ... Harpoons and Spaceware

McDonnell Douglas continued to produce airframes and integrated ramjet engines for the U.S. Navy's Talos anti-aircraft missile system, and on May 9, 1972, Talos missiles fired from U.S. Navy cruisers brought down two North Vietnamese MiG fighters -- the only North Vietnamese aircraft to be shot down by American ground fire during the war.

In 1971, McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co. was named prime contractor for the Navy's Harpoon anti-ship missile system. Over the next 30 years, the company produced more than 7,000 Harpoons at its St. Charles, Mo., assembly plant. By 2004, the Harpoon was the world's premier anti-ship cruise missile and was used by the navies of 27 nations.

Other missiles included the complex BGM-109 Tomahawk Cruise Missile project. McDonnell Douglas designed and built all Tomahawk guidance systems and in 1984, along with General Dynamics, became a manufacturer of complete missile airframes.

In 1972, McDonnell Douglas delivered the first of 50,000 M-47 Dragon missiles, small enough to be carried and fired by a single infantryman. The company also built the Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (SMAW).

By the time Skylab was placed into Earth orbit May 14, 1973, McDonnell Douglas was established as a key producer of missiles and space hardware. Products included a line of Payload Assist Modules, systems for the space shuttle orbiter vehicles and cameras used to photomap the moon's surface.

In 1977, McDonnell Douglas established the Electrophoresis Operations in Space (EOS) to explore ways to process materials under weightless conditions. On Aug. 30, 1984, McDonnell Douglas engineer Charles Walker became the first astronaut to represent a private company in space when he operated the EOS on the Space Shuttle Discovery.

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