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tv   Titan Missile Museum  CSPAN  August 20, 2017 2:12pm-2:27pm EDT

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laith so they can tool a giant shaft if they need to. we have russes and drills -- that theyd drills would use, so as things need to be repaired, they can take care of that in the machine shop. when the dam was built, there were 9 million people living in california. today, we are pushing 40 million people. a lot more people, same amount of water. when you add global warming to that component of possibly becoming a factor for flood control we have to , deal with less water in different places and we still have all these people that need water to live. i think all of those things will make facilities like this even more important. and how we manage them and the supply of water even more important.
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yvonne: the titan ii's mission was peace through deterrent. our job was to project a credible threat. to be here every day demonstrating to the soviet union that even if they launched a surprise first strike against us, we would be able to ride that out and retaliate quickly and with enough force to devastate the soviet union, even if they launched their missiles first. we are at the titan missile museum 25 miles south of downtown tucson. we are in the launch control
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center of the missile site. that is essentially the nerve center of the missile site itself. from here, using all this equipment, the crew has a birds eye view of the condition of the missile and the missile site. then it is also from here that the crew would launch the missile if they were ordered to do so. so, in order to launch a titan ii missile, the crew needs a number of things. first of all they have to , receive a launch order that will tell them to execute their missile and what time they will do that. in order for them to do that, they will need two keys. one launch key for the crew commander, and one launch key for that deputy crew commander. the launch keys were secured in the emergency war order safe.
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the crew.o twosafest secured by combination padlocks. each belongs to a specific officer on the crew. this is the crew commander's lock, this is the deputy crew commander's lock. even the officer who owns the lock knows the combination. when we received the locks, we set the combination. that combination is classified top secret because it is guarding top-secret equipment. and information. so, the two officers after they received the order, they come to the safe, remove their locks, retrieve their launch keys, the crew commander's launch key is then inserted here in the crew commander's console.
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and the deputy crew commander's launch key is inserted here. the placement of the keys is intentional and it serves an important purpose. the guarantees both officers will have to act together in order to launch the missile. because in order to launch the missile both of these keys have to be turned and held in the on position for five seconds. they have to be turned at the same moment in time. they keys which is are spring-loaded. if you let go of the key switch it automatically falls back to the off position. the keys are too far apart for one person to be able to turn both keys. again this means that both , officers have to agree that they will launch their missile. then they have to cooperate to do that.
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once they turn their keys it takes 58 seconds from key turn to lift off to lunch the missile. it will launch from the underground rate was sitting with the propellant on board. it will take 30 minutes to reach its target. when it reaches its target, that target will cease to exist. this small elevator is what the crew and maintenance teams would use to access the other levels. we will head another 100 feet underground and end up on level 7, where we can walk into the launch dock and stand under the missile.
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we will be entering the launch duct on level 7. we need to watch our head as we go in. when we entered the launch duct, we're standing correctly underneath the missile. when the missile was operational, the stage one mission would have been mounted here. the thrust chambers, it had 2, would have been extending below these cutouts. if you look to the left spot, you will see a large water spray nozzle. there is a ring of them that encircles the launch dock. when the launch sequence is initiated we start pumping 160
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gallons, roughly, a second of water into the concrete deflector at the bottom of the launch dock so that when the interacts with the water. it creates steam. the steam works together with the sound continuation panels on this mesh that line the walls. they worked together to dampen and absorb enough of the noise and vibration created by the state one engine when it fires so the missile will be able to safely launch right here. if we didn't do that, the stage engines, which generate 430,000
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pounds of thrust, like having two 747s in the launch zone, if we do not do anything to absorb the noise and vibration, it will vibrate the missile to pieces. it will explode and never launch. that was one of the huge challenges that the engineers overcame that enabled the titan ii to launch from within the launch duct. so, this is level 2 of the launch duct, we're 35 feet underground. there is another 125 feet of launch dock beneath us. we are looking at the upper section of the stage 2 of the titan ii intercontinental ballistic missile.
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the brown nose cone at the top of the missile is the reentry vehicle. the reentry vehicle is what carried the warhead on the titan ii. it is the only part of the missile that is actually going to reach its target. the yield of the titan ii was 9 megatons. that is the explosive equivalent of 9 million tons of tnt. that is enough destructive capability to decimate an area of 900 square miles. if you were to drop the equivalent of a titan ii on the city of tucson, the city of tucson would cease to exist. there were 54 titan ii missiles altogether. 18 of them were around tucson, arizona. another 18 were based around
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wichita, kansas. the final set of 18 were around little rock, arkansas. that was just part of the nuclear triad that the united states was using during the cold war. there are also another 1000 minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles on alert at the same time the titan ii was operational. in 1978, the air force open the titan ii career field to women, it had previously been close to women because it is a combat position. and when the air force transitioned to the all volunteer force, they realized they were not going to be able to man all of the titan ii sites. they weren't going to have enough people. the decision was made to open
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the career field to women. i was in college at the university of virginia at the time in reserve officer training, rotc. i was recruited for this in the very early days of the career field being open to women. i was actually a crew commander. i commanded a four-person titan ii missile combat crew at the site when it was operational. i was stationed here from 1980 to 1984. when i came back here after they opened it up as a museum, it was 1998. years. -- the museum had been open for 12 years. the site had been off alert since 1982. and i happened to come back to tucson to live after i got out of the air force. and an uncle visited me and really wanted to come here.
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i remember when we came through the access portal into the entrapment area with the tour group the smell of the missile site was the same. it hit me with an impact i had not expected. there is something to be said for the fact that your sense of smell can trigger more intense memories. i think that was true. looking back on it now with the benefit of hindsight i think i , probably started my adult career, the very first job i ever had as adult, the most important job i will ever have in my career. i started my career at the apex. everything that came after that is at least one level below.
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because i will never have as much responsibility in my lifetime again as i had when i was a crew commander here. we have a twofold mission at the museum. the first mission is to preserve and interpret the national historical landmark site and provide stewardship for the historic site. the second part of our mission is to provide a framework for the public. the discussion that the public is having about the future of nuclear weapons in the world. the generation coming up now, the young people in their 20's and 30's, they are the people that will have to confront what the future of nuclear weapons is going to be around the world.
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and, you can't do that just by reading about it. people really have no concept about nuclear weapons and how they work, how expensive they are to maintain, the destructive capabilities they have. what we do here is provide a framework for people to think about those kinds of questions. to get those kinds of answers so they can make their own decisions about how they want to influence the future of nuclear weapons in the world. i think that as a national historic landmark site this facility is performing an important role now as it did during the cold war when it was


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