Titan II Missile Launch Facility – Tucson, Arizona

Titan Missile Silo - Tucson, Arizona
Titan Missile Silo - Tucson, Arizona

Titan Missile Silo – Tucson, Arizona

Located just south of Tucson, Arizona, the Titan Missile Museum preserves one of the stark reminders of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Between the 1960’s and 1980’s the Titan II was the largest (103 ft tall) nuclear missile deployed by the United States military. It contained a single 9 megaton warhead, equivalent to 600 times the yield of bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The museum preserves the missile silo and facility where a 4-man crew worked 24 hrs a day. It is the only remaining Titan missile facility in existence. The others, located in the states of Arizona, Oklahoma and Kansas were demolished as part of a treaty with the Soviet Union.

The guided tour of the facility, which takes about an hour, offers access to the launch control room, and the corridor connecting it to the areas around the missile silo, and the equipment displayed above ground.

It’s an amazing place, and the biggest take away I had was just how much engineering went into hardening the facility against a nuclear attack, from thick metal blast doors, to giant springs meant to limit the impact of such a strike on the facility’s ability to carry out a retaliatory strike.

Further Reading Suggestion:

The Making of the Atomic Bomb: 25th Anniversary Edition – Richard Rhodes
Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety Eric Schlosser

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