Congress authorized the establishment of Aberdeen Proving Ground on August 6, 1917. Shortly thereafter, Aberdeen served as a backdrop for some early American rocketry. In September 1918, Dr. Robert Goddard, then a professor at Clark University, showed the Army Signal Corps some rockets he had developed for military use. These rockets subsequently were fired at Aberdeen Proving Ground on November 7, 1918. However, with the Armistice signed 4 days later, military interest in Goddard's rockets waned.
Still Aberdeen played an important role in the development of future rocket programs because during the interwar period the proving ground became the Army's center for ballistic research. The center hosted the first continuous flow supersonic wind tunnel for testing early missile and rocket airframes. The Nike I program used this facility in the post-war period.
By World War II, the Aberdeen-based Ballistic Research Laboratory (BRL) was on the technical cutting edge of the study of trajectories, using newly developed computers to increase the speed and accuracy of problem solving, and high speed cameras for better flight evaluation.
Initially, BRL detailed personnel to White Sands, New Mexico, who returned with raw data for evaluation. Eventually, BRL's detachment to White Sands became permanent and was transferred to that command.
A 1985 HABS/HAER survey (Historic American Building Survey/Historic American Engineering Record) recommended several Aberdeen facilities be considered for historic preservation. Nominated sites that worked with missile research included the Ballistics Research Lab building 328 (Category I) and the H.R. Kent Supersonic Wind Tunnel and Laboratory housed in building 120 (Category II).