|View up from level 7|
This weekend we visited the Titan Missile Museum just south of Tucson which is the exception to that rule. Complex 571-7 in Green Valley, Arizona was operational from 1963 till the Titan II was decommissioned in 1987. One of 54 site around Tuscon, Little Rock and Wichita, someone had the amazing foresight so suggest saving a silo complex for posterity. Bless them, whoever they are!
|The silo topside as seen today|
|Blast Lock - Here's where the "hardened" part of the complex begins|
|Launch Control Complex Facilities Console|
|Alternate Launch Officers Console|
The Alternate Launch Officers Console is primarily a communications console, which explains why it is frequently covered in photographs taken in active Titan sites. The second key required for launch is visible in the photo above in the side of the console just below the clock. The two keys are far enough apart to prevent one person from activating both keys at the same time.
|UHF, HF and LF communications racks.|
|Level 2 of the LCC.|
The launch control center is not very large, but since the normal alert staff would consist of only two launch officers and two enlisted technicians it's not claustrophobic. We were given a copy of the Air Force complex familiarization handout given to launch crews that listed everything to be checked out during an alert shift and it's clear that missile crews did not spend all their time staring at the panels. Our tour lasted over 5 hours to to access all the levels. Even given the familiarity with the systems a missile crew would have, I could see it easily taking two hours just doing the physical inspections, and I'm sure there were regular test and maintenance activities to perform as well.
The upper level of the control center is the living area where the break room with the stove and refrigerator are as well as the sleeping area.
|This was the way out after a launch|
The lower level has the ventilation and radio antenna controls. Also in level 3 is the hatch to the ventilation duct that served as the alternate escape from the control center. The normal entrance was not expected to survive a near miss. Given the remote location of these sites, leaving the area would be problematic after a nuclear exchange in any case.
|Communications tunnel to the silo|
Once through touring the control center a short walk through the cable way leads to the silo. Consisting of an inner launch duct where the missile sits and an external duct surrounding it with the support equipment, the cable way enters on level 2 of the silo. The museum had two windows cut into the launch duct through which the missile can be observed.
|The business end|
|Looking down from level 3|
Moving down through the silo we next went to level 3 where after taking the hard hats off we could lean out into the launch duct through one of the access doors. If you look closely you can see another group on level 7. That ring around the missile at the bottom is the thrust mount. It's suspended by those large springs you see on the side of the launch duct. The missile sits on the thrust mount secured by 4 explosive bolts.
Level 3 is also where the diesel generator skid that provides emergency power is located. While there isn't a whole lot of extra room, there is plenty of access to all the equipment. The photographs make it look more crowded than it is.
We continued down through levels 4, 5 and 6 where ventilation, diesel fuel and hard water tanks, fuel and oxidizer sample stations are located - I'll spare you photos since unless you're into industrial machinery it all pretty much looks alike...
|Here's where the engine goes - the pipes are for fuel and oxidizer|
At level 7 we enter the launch duct just below the thrust mount where the engine would be. When asked why the engine was removed Chuck had an excellent answer - "We didn't expect to be taking anyone down here." The good news is that they've acquired enough parts to assemble another engine to mount, although it will have to be brought down in pieces - the elevator isn't very big.
|Looking up from the flame deflector|
Then down to the blast deflector. Those big water pipe looking things sticking out of the wall are indeed big water pipes. Just prior to launch water from the 100,000 gallon hard water tank are dumped through here to be turned into steam. This steam along with sound insulation throughout the launch duct are necessary to prevent the noise of launch from destroying the missile before it can clear the silo.
|MkVI RV yard art. I want one...|
|Looking into the silo from the surface. The hole in the RV is to prove to foreign spies that there really isn't a physics package installed.|
Thanks again to Chuck Penson for a great tour.