- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 18, 2006

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Retired 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, died Jan. 15 at Torrance Memorial Medical Center. He was 91.

The cause of death was not known.

Col. 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 shortlist of military marvels of the 20th century right up there with the Manhattan Project,” said John Pike, director of the military information Web site www.globalsecurity.org.

Col. 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 earned a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the 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 end of the war, he was assigned to acquire intelligence on Germany’s rocket-propulsion equipment and studied parts recovered from V-2 rockets.

After the war, Col. 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.

Col. 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.

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