October 17, 2010 Titan Missile Museum

Today, we visited the Titan Missile Museum.  First some information from the internet:
“The Titan Missile Museum
A Must-See Arizona Exhibit

A remarkable museum 15 miles south of Tucson, Arizona, is apparently the only Intercontinental Missile (ICBM) silo complex in the world that is open to the public. Most of the hardware is still in place, including the 110 foot tall Titan II rocket. The facility consists of three underground structures, connected by tunnels: the control center; the silo; and, in between them, the blast lock structure, which contains the access portal and the stairwell that brings you 35 feet underground and through the blast door in to the facility.

Visitors are shown most of the surface and underground features, except for the living area and equipment area on the top and bottom levels of the three story, spring-loaded control center structure. The features and functions of the control room, on the middle level, are explained in detail, as are the complex routines and security measures of the missile crew that manned the silos in four person, 24 hour shifts.

This site is one of 54 Titan II silos in three separate silo fields, that served as a nuclear deterrent from 1963 to 1984. There was this field of 18 silos, in the vicinity of Davis Monthan Air Force Base, in Tucson; another 18 near Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas; and another 18 near McConnell Air Force Base, in Wichita, Kansas. The Titan II was the largest ICBM ever made by the USA, and the program was meant as a retaliatory deterrent, only to be fired in response to a Soviet first strike. The missiles, each with a nuclear warhead of over one megaton (the exact amount is still classified), were kept fueled and ready to launch within one minute of receiving the command to do so.

The last Titan II silo was decommissioned in 1987, replaced by more advanced Minuteman and MX Peacekeeper ICBMs, deployed in 1000 silos across the Great Plains. Many of the Titan silos were sold to the public at auction, after the Air Force detonated the launch duct and salvaged reusable equipment (the access portal and control centers were left in tact and some are used now as storage, and in some cases even as homes by their new owners). The Titan II rockets have been refitted and used for satellite deployment.”

Links to more info:



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This is a replica of the missile silo:

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We walked around the visitor center, then took the tour.   Our guide first showed us a film on the site and information on the missile and the missile program.  From there we went outside:

Here is our first view of the opening:

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Can you imagine – 760 TONS of concrete and steel!!

Our guide took us thru a number of exhibits outside and explained the fueling of the missile and security of the area.  We then walked up to see the missile – IMPRESSIVE!

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These are the security sensors that were placed around the silo.   If the beam was broken, an alarm would go off and security would show up.  When they first set up the system, it was so sensitive that even a small critter would set it off – how funny.  Eventually they “desensitized” it so the little critters could pass on thru.  Our guide told us the story that on one of the other silos when the alarm went off, security would not go to the site but to another area with their binoculars.   Apparently a mountain lion would like to sun himself on the concrete cap and set off the alarm – :-)).

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And then we went down below:

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Each crew would be on duty for 24 hours and there were quite a few security systems set up to go inside. 

How about the thickness of those doors:

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And the control room.   Our guide explained all the systems and the flow of what would happen if the order was issued to fire the missile – WOW!

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We saw a number of these signs – what it meant is that in all but the crew quarters, a crew member could not be alone.  They had to be within eyesight of each other – WOW!!

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The three floors on this part of the complex was cushioned by springs:

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On our way to see the missile:

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A great tour!!!

When we first parked our car, we saw this antenna and sign – you know my Andy was all smiles:

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And then on the tour we saw this sign and antenna:

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HMMMMM – it can fold down to 7.4 feet – that would fit on the motor home – :-)))   I know he would love one of these for home….

Another great day!


Susan Stevenson said...

Steve and I stopped at the Titan Missile Museum when we were in AZ to celebrate our 10th anniversary (nearly a decade ago). It was quite interesting, and a bit sobering. Neat seeing the photos and remembering our trip.

Love the sunset photos too. There's nothing like a painted sky over the desert.

Susan in North Pole

Diane and Andy said...

Hi Susan,
Thanks, and I love your blog - photos are incredible.

We spent the summers of 07 and 09 in Alaska and fell in love... In 2009, we volunteered at Creamers for 6 weeks - what a neat place.

And so glad that your happy memories of Sedona are returning...it is a rough time...