The roots of Air Force hypersonic research and development are grounded in Army Air Force General Henry H. Hap Arld's identification of the need for advanced airpower weapon systems to meet the anticipated postwar enemy threat. The techlogy for a smooth transition to military spaceflight seemed within reach when Bell Aircraft Corporation executive Walter Dornberger (the former commander of Nazi Germany's V-2 rocket research) made an unsolicited proposal to William E. Lamar (the chief of Wright Aeronautical Development Center's New Development Office of the Bomber Aircraft Division at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH) for a hypersonic boost-glide weapon system. Visionaries like Arld, Dornberger, and Lamar believed a hypersonic boost-glider would represent the ultimate expression of the USAir Force's doctrine by performing strategic bombardment and reconnaissance more successfully any other type of vehicle. As this aspiration reached maturity in Dyna-Soar, the service's leadership never gave up their beliefs. After 1958, having convinced the civilian leadership within the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force of its military value, each successive Air Force chief of staff struggled to convince officials within the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) of its military value. The struggle to persuade the secretary of defense and his advisors, who did t share the Air Force's vision for a military spaceplane, illustrates the ebb and flow of an advanced techlogy program and its legacies within the context of American society. Although the program was canceled in 1963, questions regarding the need for offensive military space operations and the viability of a rocket-boosted glider to provide routine, low cost, military access to space continue to influence hypersonic research and development today as well as offer the Air Force ather chance for a venture equal in scope to Dyna-Soar.
Air Command and Staff College, Air University, USA