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WINDY, Change of plans, Minuteman Missile NHS

Tuesday, 9/20/2011

Cedar Pass Campground

Interior, SD


Today was supposed to be a travel day, but due to weather conditions, we’ve decided to stay another day.  Last night, about an hour after we got home from David and Sherry’s, the wind started to pick up.  It was really strong and we definitely could feel it.  Winds were at 20-30 MPH with gusts up into the 40’s.  This lasted all night long and into the morning hours today.  We were very concerned about traveling today.  We watched as the campground slowly emptied out.  We saw David and Sherry leave too.  They were heading east toward Mitchell.  The winds were out of the northwest, so they had a tailwind.  We would have been heading west right into the wind, so we stayed right here for another day.

I wanted to go to the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.  The starting point is the visitor contact station located about three miles north of the northeast entrance to the Badlands at exit 131 off Interstate 90.  The contact station has some exhibits and a video.  It’s also where you signup for the free ranger guided tour and get your tickets.  The tour takes place a few miles west of the visitor contact station at the Launch Control Facility Delta-01.  Only six people can go on the tour at a time because the elevator which takes visitors down to the Launch Control Center only holds seven people.  The Launch Control Center is where two people would be locked into for 24 hours at a time.  This is where the strike command would be sent and carried out if required.  The support staff stayed in the building above ground.  South Dakota’s Minuteman Missile field consisted of 150 underground silos and 15 Launch Control Facilities and covered 13,500 square miles.  Here’s a picture of the Launch Control Center Delta-01.
The armored vehicle used to travel to the missile silos known as Launch Facilities.
There were two work stations inside the Launch Control Center.  Here’s one of them, with a closer view of the keyhole where one of the two keys would be inserted if the launch command was made.
The second workstation and keyhole.
The two workstations/keyholes were far enough apart that it required two people to insert and turn the keys.  One person could not reach both keys.  The Control Center door was about three feet thick and had this artwork on it inspired by Domino’s Pizza. 
A Minuteman Missile could strike a target up to 6,300 miles away in about 30 minutes.
Apparently they didn’t have spell check back then…
Here’s the backup exit in case the elevator stopped working.  We would’ve been required to climb this if the elevator had malfunctioned.  Luckily, it didn’t.
This guided tour was very informative and interesting.  It wasn’t strenuous, and it was free.  After the tour we headed over to Launch Facility Delta-09.  It was a few miles west of the Launch Control Center on the other side of I90.  Here’s the sign on the fence around the missile silo.
Under the glass viewing dome is an unarmed Minuteman Missile.
Here’s some of the information…
Both sites, the Launch Control Center and the Launch Facility, are in full view from I90.  This was a very interesting site to visit and is a part of this country’s history that we all experienced.
Here’s a sunset picture to close with today.


  1. Wow. I had no idea that even existed. Looks like you got the grand tour and the price was right!

  2. Very Cool. I did not know you could tour the facilities.