we find the guidance computer, consoles, phone system, security &
alarm panels and a host of other systems too numerous to
mention. In a nutshell, this is the brains of the whole complex.
console for the Remington Rand Univac Athena computer
(foreground) in the upper level. Surrounded of course by scads of
other Ground Operating Equipment (GOE).
closer shot of the Athena computer console. You thought your
computer wasn't user friendly...
in on the Operations room we see the Athena computer which handled the
complex calculations for the missile's trajectory; the launch,
guidance and facilities consoles; punch card readers, tape drives and
a myriad of rack-mounted equipment.
the Titan I was born during the era of punch cards. The guidance
program, written by Bell Laboratories, consisted of a very large
number of punched cards. Broken into various modules, or
components, the individual silos were controlled by color-coded cards
(each launcher with its own color: yellow, blue and red) which were read into memory and stored on paper tape.
Launch Console - "The Button" essentially.
this console, the Missile Launch Officer (MLO) and his
crew, given the order, could have waged World War III. Once
orders were received, this is where the majority of the action would
take place until the missiles were away.
verifying their Emergency War Order (EWO) and entering
the target selection (the DGZ, or Designated Ground Zero)
the countdown checklist would proceed. The "MISSILE AND
FACILITY" button on the launch console would initiate the
long list of items required to rain hell down on the target until
finally the "LIFT OFF" indicator would illuminate, signaling
the point of no return. The missile is away.
launch process would involve the opening of valves and loading of
propellants. Tanks would pressurize and any crew would evacuate
the launcher area. The missile air con- ditioning would start,
batteries would charge and the missile would come to life. Gyros would spin up and ordnance would be armed; explosive bolts,
ready to release the bird
at 70% thrust, become hot and wait.
The warhead would pre-arm, waiting to
fully arm later after
apogee. The huge 420-ton doors would groan open, slowly exposing
the missile as its fueling completes and the silo is deluged with tens
of thousands of gallons of water to protect it. The missile
would rise slowly under it's massive weight, now fully laden with
oxidizer (LOX) and fuel (RP-1), the launcher elevator groaning as it
reaches the surface.
antenna, would emerge from its own silo and check its orientation and
alignment, waiting for its call to guide the missile home. White
vapor drifts off the missile as expanding LOX is relieved and
underneath the missile, the flame deflector, a concrete lined steel
scoop, is doused with water to protect it from the immense heat of the
twin rocket engines of the Titan's Aerojet LR87 1st stage motor.
in the first stage motor are spun up with pyrotechnics and the
ignition is fired, re- leasing a huge could of gas, smoke, steam and
fuel as the rocket nozzles transmit enorm- ous force from the
missile. The umbilical tower separates with the firing of
explosive bolts and falls away from the missile a ways leaving it
clear; lanyards pull power, air conditioning, fuel, instrument and
service lines free from the missile.
Instruments measure the
force of the motor's lift until it is at 70% thrust and then explosive
bolts fire simultaneously to release the missile; their explosions
completely drowned out by the incredible roar of the engines. It
appears to rise slowly, almost drifting upward at first, but after
only a few hundred feet it is already traveling well over 100 miles
per hour. It would rise upward on a column of flame, eventually
reaching over 7 miles per second (escape velocity) and would be lost
from sight behind the Earth's curvature.
first stage burnout at about 35 miles up, more explosive bolts would
separate it from the 2nd stage, warhead and re-entry vehicle.
The Aerojet LR91, the 2nd stage engine, would fire up and continue on
it's course as vernier nozzles continued making attitude corrections
to keep the missile on target with a CEP*
of 1400 meters (~.87 miles).
reaching an altitude of about 150 miles and a velocity of over 22,000
feet per second, 2nd stage separation would occur and vernier nozzles
would make final course corrections and carry the re-entry vehicle and
warhead on a ballistic trajectory, finally reaching an apogee of over
540 miles above the earth. Controlled only by gravity on the
last leg of it's journey, the Titan I would descend on it's target at
over 17,000 miles per hour!
Avco Mark-IV re-entry vehicle aboard the Titan I housed the 3.75
megaton W-38 warhead designed by University of California Radiation Laboratory
(UCRL - Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory). It could
deliver an airburst, detonating above it's target for a more
destructive effect or detonate on impact for a less devastating
attack. Time for the Titan I to travel a distance of 5,500 miles
was about 33 minutes.
In the military science of ballistics, Circular Error Probability or circular error probable (CEP) is a simple measure of a weapon system's precision. It is defined as the radius of a circle into which a missile, bomb, or projectile will land at least half the time.
For example, an ICBM warhead with a CEP of 100 meters will impact within 100 meters of the target point in at least 50 percent of all attempts.
-- from Wikipedia
more to go...
Look out below!
missile in turn would launch one at a time. The time required to
get the bird in the air was said to be about 15 minutes for the first,
and 11 minutes each for the 2nd and 3rd. Missiles could not be
fired simultaneously because there was not enough power provided by
the generators to lift more than one fueled missile to the surface at
a time, and that the system was not designed for more than one
countdown to progress at any one time.
a Titan site had launched all it's missiles, it's duty was effectively
complete unless it was called upon to act as launch command for
another Titan I complex in the squadron. The ability of the
Titans to "Hand Off" launch control to other Control Centers
was a powerful redundant feature in the event that guidance or system
failures rendered a site unable to launch it's own missiles.
Each site was interconnected to all it's neighbors by buried cables
that allowed any one Control Center to assume control and use it's
computer and antennas to effect a launch.
dogs dutifully manning the Launch, Facilities and Guidance consoles in
the Control Center circa 1962. This picture appears to have been
taken during a Combined Systems Exercise (CSE) which would test the
missile systems and facilities and keep the crew sharp on the
procedures. The monitors in the background would display the silo
doors and missiles as well as portions of the underground complex.
Note the ashtray (as mentioned) built into the Launch console at the
lower right of the photo.
sorry, I can't do that Dave."
mounts as the airmen struggle with "Halena" to get the silo
doors opened. Vacuum tube computers were notoriously
this photo we can see the Operations room has been given the "lived
in" look. I wonder who picked out the drapes?
oh! Cheese it! It's Colonel Proctor (far left) and his
Ominous Entourage! Everyone look busy and get out the polish
cause' here comes the brass! This picture may be from turnover of
the site by the contractors to the Air Force, or perhaps it is only a
walk-through inspection by the bigwigs. Not sure, but the man in
the dark glasses has a definite "Dr. Strangelove" look about
Proctor again, this time with what appears to be civilian contractors or
important political types curious to see where the defense dollars
went. Here, the guy in the center sneaks a peek at the launch
codes. Above them is a beautiful shot of the launch clocks-- one
dial for each launcher.
I had mentioned earlier, the Launch Complex Office went largely unused
at some sites. The following photo shows it outfitted with
bunks, comfy chairs and Mil-spec aluminum foil over the windows that
overlook the operations room outside. This picture is of one of
the Lowry sites I believe. Looks like the magazine rack could
use a few more copies of Popular Science and National Geographic to fill it
not sure why this area was outfitted as sleeping quarters since there
supposedly existed ample accommodations on the lower level.
Convenience I guess...
instead of an office, apparently this area slept 6. Another shot
of the Titan Motel.
have changed a bit over the years. Now let's see how things look
today in the next section. Click below to continue...
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