• Underground Delta-01 LCC, 44th Missile Wing/66th Strategic Missile Wing logos, topside view of Delta-09 LF

    Minuteman Missile

    National Historic Site South Dakota

Launch Control Center Delta-01

Launch Control Center Delta-01

Launch Control Center Delta-01

NPS

Launch Control Center Delta-01

For every 10 Minuteman nuclear missiles there would be a launch control center that remotely commanded and controlled the missiles. Since there were 1000 Minuteman Missiles across the upper Great Plains from the mid-1960s up until the early 1990s, there would have been 100 launch control centers. The underground launch control center at Delta-01 was 31 feet beneath the ground of the Launch Control Facility.

Two missileers worked and lived on 24 hour alert duty shifts within the launch control center. They would spend most of their time monitoring the status of their 10 missiles. Among their other work duties were authenticating message traffic, remotely monitoring maintenance at the silos and assisting with the dispatch of security police if any alarms were tripped at the silos.

When the missileers were not performing work duties they would pass time by reading, watching television or studying for master's degrees through a special Air Force educational program. There was also a bunk provided for one missileer to sleep while the other crewmember kept an eye on the weapons system.

As one former missileer, David Blackhurst, once said, missileer duty was like "hours and hours of sheer boredom, punctuated by seconds of panic.

Missileers waited and waited over several decades for a launch command they hoped would never arrive. If the command to launch was given, it would have come in the form of an Emergency War Order (EWO).

Did You Know?

Launch Control Center under construction

To construct and deploy all 150 silos and 15 adjacent support structures for South Dakota’s Minuteman Missile field cost $56 million in the early 1960s ($9.2 billion in 2005 terms).