Wednesday, February 22, 2012

THE TITAN MISSILE MUSEUM


A look at the Titan II from the top down into the silo. The Titan Missiles were a successful war deterrent. For one such anti-war person as myself, I had never believed that philosophy. But, when the very knowledgeable volunteer told us that the missile site was never hidden, the Russians knew where our missiles were located; the U.S. knew where their missile silos were located.  It  made me rethink that philosophy.

The underground command center to the left in the photo. The entrance chamber in the middle. The actual 103 foot tall missile in its own underground chamber, all are available to visitors to the museum. Very educational and interesting to see.
The  Cold War issues were critical and frightening to all of us living at that time. Just the thought of nuclear war, destroying the world as we knew it, never to recover. What insanity did that imply? Both sides knew if they struck first, the retaliation would be automatic and devastating. Thus, neither would pull the trigger with the knowledge that nuclear war was a lose-lose situation. Dismantling of nuclear war weapons is still happening.

The fail safe methods employed here, the attention to detail and safety, made me shiver. Only two people occupied the command center waiting for that terrible call to press the button that would launch a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. The missiles would reach them in 30 minutes. Once launched, there was no turning back.  The No Lone Zone makes it clear that no single person could carry that responsibility. It was always dependent on two people to safe check each other.

Walls of special reinforced concrete in the silos, eight feet thick. In the command center above, four feet thick. Check the hinge on the right of the photo. It carried a three ton door, with such precision and balance it could be opened with one finger. And, even after 50 years, the door is still perfectly balanced.

The cabinet that held the launch codes had double locks. It took two people with keys from different sources to open the cabinet to get the launch codes that had several fail checks in how the final code was delivered by the President of the United States, and the Joint Chiefs,  besides the keys issued each shift.

During each tour, the command center is in full operation to launch an underground Titan. It is a sequenced event in three steps after turning the key in sync with a second  officer turning a key at the same time.

There were back-up systems to their back-up systems, including this key wound clock that insured the time would never be off by a millisecond. It fail-checked the electric clocks.

I saw all the movies, and how accurate they were about the Cold War and the secrecy and fail safe methods. Being there made me respect that our government did a top-notch job of protecting our country from a possible irreversible tragedy. Manned 24 hours a day, every day, at a huge cost. How much better that money could have been used for peaceful pursuits. So, my anti-war stance has not changed.

In fact, everything here, the phones, the cameras, the computers, even the fuel mixer, of which you see a slice of, above, is obsolete. The holes delivered two types of fuel, only stable when separated. They were only useable when mixed at launch.

This is a view of the missile from below, looking up at the nose cone.


And then this surprise. A time capsule. I’ve seen several put away. But, I’ve never seen one opened.  This was a very interesting museum to visit.

Go!  And, watch for rattlesnakes. (To understand that statement you have to visit the site.)

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