Arizona – 2 July

We started the holiday weekend with a good old, as American as apple pie, missile silo tour.

Right near here – in fact, we pass it most days on the way to and from work – is the only still-intact Titan II missile silo. There were 54 of these things buried in American soil for around 20 years of the Cold War – a true, concrete and steel implementation of the principle of Mutually Assured Destruction. Well, a concrete and steel and nuclear warhead implementation, really. I certainly have a sense of “this rock keeps away tigers” around the whole concept of MAD. Sure there’s no proof it didn’t work, but from a tour of that place it’s pretty obvious that it could have gone disastrously wrong. Take for instance the example of the guy who, one day in 1980, dropped a three pound socket and caused an explosion that destroyed a whole silo, including most of the missile (fortunately not the warhead). If the wrong eyes had been watching, and mistaken that for a launch…

All that said, there’s no denying that it is an impressive piece of engineering.

Looking down through the silo doors.

The control center. Sorry this panorama is a bit rubbish, I was rushed. Note the frankly ridiculously large shock isolation spring in the background.

Vibration-isolated hallway between the control room and the silo proper.

This is a real Titan-II missile, but was previously used for training purposes and thus never had a warhead or fuel.

With the taste of that experience washed away by a 44oz (1.3L) cup of Dr Pepper, we spent most of the rest of the day wandering improbably large chain stores, punctuated only by a frankly outstanding lunch at Cafe Poca Cosa. Sorry I didn’t take a photo of this one (I’ve been saving some food photos up for a single blog post later on), but I will definitely be back there before we leave.

Yes, that says 79 cents

One Response

  1. Scary stuff. The silo and the price/volume for Dr Pepper!

    Clare - July 19th, 2011 at 9:06 pm

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