Dispersed across the high plains of South Dakota were 150 silos just like the Launch Facility at Delta-09. Delta-09 connected to its Launch Control Facility at Delta-01 by underground communications cables. Most of the time Delta-09 was unmanned. Periodically, maintenance crews would perform upkeep or take care of any malfunctioning systems. At other times security police would have to secure the site if any outer or inner zone alarms sounded. Below the circular 90 ton concrete cap was a Minuteman II missile. This missile was housed in a silo which was temperature and humidity controlled. The Minuteman carried a 1.2 megaton warhead that had 120 times the explosive capacity of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II.
In Photo 6, visitors to the Launch Facility look down into the silo through a viewing enclosure where the 90 ton concrete cap had been at a Minuteman II Missile on display. The Delta-09 Launch Facility (shown above) and the Delta-01 Launch Control Facility (shown in Photo 5) are part of Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service established in 1999 by the United States Congress. The park's resources are the only ones specifically designated to illustrate the history of the Cold War, the nuclear arms race, and development of ICBMs.
Questions for Photo 6
1. Does the launch facility look dangerous? Do any of the above ground structures indicate a nuclear missile is beneath the ground?
2. What would you think Delta-09 was if you did not know that it was a Launch Facility?
3. Why do you think that the Launch Control Facility and Launch Facility seen in Photos 5 and 6 became a unit of the National Park Service? Had you heard about the Cold War prior to this lesson? Do you think it is important to learn about the nuclear arms race and development of ICBMs during this time period? Why or why not?
* The image on this screen has a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a larger version of Photo 6, but be aware that the file will take as much as 30 seconds to load with a 28.8K modem.