Rehab of Warren's Redstone rocket begins
WARREN — The rehab of the town’s iconic and historic Redstone rocket began on Tuesday with a power-washing of the 83-foot long craft from the tip of its nosecone to the end of its tail fins.
The Redstone rocket was brought to town in 1971 by the late Henry “Ted” Asselin, who, while in the U.S. Army, was stationed at the Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Ala., and who, when his hitch was up, asked his commanders if they could spare one of the rockets like the one that carried the first American, Alan Shepard of Derry, into space.
Asselin’s commanders agreed to part with a rocket, provided that its removal didn’t cost the Army anything. Along with some friends, Asselin managed to get the rocket back to his hometown, thereby making Warren the only community in the U.S. to have one.
The rocket has been painted several times in its days on Warren’s town green, and, thanks to Cornerstone Painting Contractors of Hooksett, it will soon get another protective coat as well as reinforcement of the concrete base on which it sits.
The $14,500 rehab project began Tuesday and, weather permitting, is expected to last about two weeks, with the missile scheduled to be ready for Warren’s Old Home Day celebration which takes place July 11-13.
Erich Petty of Franklin, who is Cornerstone Painting’s Redstone project supervisor, said he lobbied his bosses for the privilege of working on the missile.
A family-owned business, Cornerstone has many commercial, institutional and residential clients throughout New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts, and it also does some “miscellaneous, individual residential work,” Petty noted, “but no missile-related work until today.”
Petty said once the Redstone rocket has been power-washed it will be scraped down to the bare metal, primed and then covered with a special Benjamin Moore paint that is used to protect bridges from the elements.
“Hopefully, it should last a long time,” said Petty, who added that he and his company were thrilled to add the Redstone to Cornerstone’s resume.
Mark Langdon, who is Cornerstone Painting’s administrative director, grew up in nearby Haverhill and as a boy would see the rocket whenever his family drove down Route 25 to go to Plymouth. A year ago, Langdon asked Andrew Dorsett, who was then Warren’s town administrator, whether there was any work that Cornerstone could do in the community and eventually Dorsett came back with the Redstone project.
“It’s exciting, it definitely is,” Langdon said of being able to make the Redstone look better, echoing Petty’s point that while Cornerstone Painting has painted construction cranes on the top of buildings as well as amusement rides at Canobie Lake Park, “this is the first time we’ve ever painted a rocket.”
“I’m stoked that we’re doing it,” Langdon continued. “If I could paint, I’d probably be up there as well.”