The True Missile Silo
It was quickly discovered that there were problems with the design of the Atlas E launcher. So, simultaneously with Atlas E sites, the Atlas Fs were built in the late '50's and early '60's, activated in 1961 and, after a short operational period, were decommissioned in 1965. These were the first of the "super hardened" missile silos, built to withstand a 200 pound-per-square-inch blast within a 1 mile radius. At the time, these were some of the most hardened structures man has ever built. Construction costs (structure only) range from $12-18 million in 1960's dollars; in today's equivalent, that is over $110 Million dollars!
General Layout & Features
Launch Control Center (LCC)
The LCC is a smaller cylindrical underground chamber with two stories. It housed the launch control center and the barracks. It was connected to the Missile Silo with a 40' tunnel. Today, this is the area that holds promise for development into a home or other usable space.
The missile silo is a huge structure with a 52' inside diameter and is approximately 180' deep. The silo has three blast doors leading from the LCC. To launch the missile, two overhead 90-ton doors would be opened hydraulically. Originally, there were nine floors built inside the silo. Today, most of the Atlas F silos have been salvaged leaving only the structural walls. One way the silos are now being developed is to rebuild some or all of the floors. Each level would have approximately 2,000 square feet.
Plot sizes vary greatly due to post-government division. The typical minimum is 5 acres, although some are still deeded with the original 10-22 acres the government purchased. Originally, the inner 5 acres around the launch area were surrounded by 8' tall high-security chain link fence topped with barbed wire. There were usually two 40' x' 100' Quonset buildings on the sites to house the workers and equipment during the construction phase. Though most of the buildings have been removed, but the concrete pads often remain. A hardened antenna silo also exists on the grounds. It measures 8' in diameter and 29' deep. It protected the redundant antenna in case the main one was damaged.