Titan Missile Museum
Descend more than 35 feet under the earth to experience a chilling taste of the cold war. The Titan Missile Museum is the only location in the world where the public can explore an actual nuclear missile complex--complete with nuclear missile! For over two decades, this nuclear Titan II was on 24-hour launch alert, ready for an order that was never given.
At the Titan Missile Museum, visitors come face to face with the largest land-based missile ever deployed by the United States. Missile site 571-7 at the Titan Missile Museum is the sole remaining vestige of the 54 Titan II sites that were “on alert” during the Cold War between 1963 and 1987. Located 25 miles south of Tucson at exit 69 off of I-19, this former operational Titan II missile complex offers a rare glimpse into the technology that protects the United States.
One-hour guided tours of the missile site are offered daily, and include a tour of both the aboveground and underground facilities. The aboveground tour includes a view of the 103-foot missile from the top down, as visitors stand directly on top of the launch duct. Visitors then descend 35 feet underground, making their way through heavy, yet easy-to-move blastdoors weighing 3 tons each. Arriving in the launch control center, visitors experience a simulated launch of the missile. Lasting 58 seconds from key-turn to Liftoff, the launch sequence is a chilling demonstration of the awesome responsibilities born by the Titan II crew members. Later, visitors walk down the long cableway connecting the launch control center to the silo. In the silo, they have a close-up view of the missile from less than ten feet away.
Twenty years ago Kansas, Arkansas and Arizona were littered with nuclear missiles, ready to be deployed at a moment's notice. But this never happened. In 1981, by Presidential order, all 54 of these missile silos were to be dismantled and abandoned by 1987. But what most people don't know is that one still remains in the desert south of Tucson. This is the only one that was not abandoned after it was hollowed out, and still stands in tribute as a piece of history and as a museum.
Opened to the public in 1986, the Titan II is a second-generation liquid fueled ballistic missile and the largest Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) ever developed in the US. Declared operationally ready in 1963, these missiles were maintained by constant crews and kept ready to launch 24 hours a day, at the mere utterance of a command. Underground, the "hardened" command center is cushioned by springs so that it could withstand anything but a direct hit from the enemy. The center, where so many served, is outfitted with antiquated computers from Titan's time, much larger than the microchips of today. To activate this sleeping giant, it was required that two keys, held by two people, be turned at the same time, to avoid any mistakes, because once the process was started, it couldn't be stopped. The living quarters inhabited by the crews for so many years, are located above the control room where most of their time was spent, and are opened to the public only a few times a year.
A couple of 6,000-pound blast doors guard the missile silo, and beyond them lays a space age corridor that leads to Titan II itself. This 110 foot, 170-ton missile still looks ominous, even though it is now hollow and innocuous. In order to keep this silo intact, they had to prove that it was no longer operational. The missile had holes cut into it, to prove that it had been gutted and the silo door is kept permanently half open so that Russian satellites can see that it is not a threat. The museum was also named as a National Historic Landmark in 1994, which is rare for things younger than 50 years old. Even though the Cold War has been over for years, its haunting memory and possible implications still serve as a reminder at the Titan Missile Museum.
Tours last one hour, one begins every 30 minutes, and reservations are recommended. Walking shoes are required (heels are not permitted) and special tours may be arranged.
Hours of Operation: Open daily from 8:45 AM to 5:00 PM. First tour is at 9:00 AM and last tour is at 4:00 PM. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.
For more information call (520) 625-7736
Titan Missile Museum: 1580 W. Duval Mine Rd, Sahuarita, AZ 85629