Atomic Awesome

Minuteman’s Launch Room

We seem to have a fascination with abandoned control rooms on this site. I can’t blame us. They are quite extraordinary. Some of these abandoned control rooms you can visit. For example, the Launch Control Room Delta-01 at the Minuteman National Historic Site.

The Minuteman missile gave the USA it’s first fast-response ICBM capability in October 1962. Previous ICBMs had been liquid fueled, which meant that they were stored empty and fueled when the president gave the go-ahead to blast the Commies to smithereens. The Minuteman was a solid fuel rocket and was ready to go at a moment’s notice. Within half an hour, Moscow would be a lake fed by the Moskva River.

The Minuteman missile was deployed from Malmstrom AFB in Montana, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, and Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Each base had between 150 and 200 missiles assigned to it that were in launch complexes under the American prairie and spread out over hundreds of miles. For instance, Delta-01 at the Minuteman NHS is 70 miles from Ellsworth AFB and is one of the closer facilities.

Today, the Minuteman NHS in South Dakota gives visitors the opportunity to look down into a silo. The launcher closure having been locked in a partial open position in accordance with START. A dummy practice Minuteman II sits where a live missile would have sat until 1991 when START forced the deactivation of the Minuteman I and II. You can go into the Launch Control Center, look into the silo, and see the support building.

However, that only scratches the surface of the launch complex. There are mechanical spaces in the launch tube and other equipment not accessible by the tour. Nonplused.org, however, gained access to these areas and took some amazing panoramic photos you can manipulate until you feel like you’re there. Head over to their Minuteman site here and prepare to waste the rest of the day there.

While you’re there, look at what else they have. Yes, that’s interior view of the HMB-1 and Sea Shadow you read about last week.

[Image Credit: National Park Service]

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