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Missile Combat Crews

The Launch Control Facility, also called a Missile Alert Facility, is the main Minuteman working space. Each one controls a flight of 10 widely-dispersed missiles. (Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service, Clayton B. Fraser, 1997.)

The Launch Control Facility, also called a Missile Alert Facility, is the main Minuteman working space. Each one controls a flight of 10 widely-dispersed missiles. (Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service, Clayton B. Fraser, 1997.)

Combat crews work in the Launch Control Center (LCC). The underground “capsule” of thick concrete and steel holds a module much like the trainer you are in now (this drawing shows a Minuteman III LCC). The module is suspended on giant shock isolators to protect the crew and sensitive electronics from nuclear attack. (Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service, Clayton B. Fraser, 1998.)

Combat crews work in the Launch Control Center (LCC). The underground “capsule” of thick concrete and steel holds a module much like the trainer you are in now (this drawing shows a Minuteman III LCC). The module is suspended on giant shock isolators to protect the crew and sensitive electronics from nuclear attack. (Historic American Engineering Record, National Park Service, Clayton B. Fraser, 1998.)

Minuteman II combat crews included a commander and deputy commander. These officers underwent extensive training and constant drills to be sure they mastered every aspect of controlling nuclear weapons. While on alert, they maintained constant vigilance, managed maintenance logs and activities and monitored many electronic systems. 

Combat crews had to be ready to launch nuclear missiles at any time. Early in the program, each two-person crew served 36- to 40-hour "alert tours" in the launch control facility, but this schedule proved very tiring. After 1977, tours changed to 24 hours to lessen fatigue and make schedules more regular. Combat crews alternate between eight hours at their consoles and eight hours of rest. 

Early in the Cold War, only experienced male aviators could serve on missile combat crews. Over time, though, officers without flight experience also became very capable missileers. By the 1970s, few had flight experience and most were under age 30. In 1978, women began serving on all-female Titan II missile crews and later on Minuteman crews. In 1988, men and women began serving together on combat crews, overcoming reservations about same-sex teams working in close, confined quarters.


Click here to return to the Minuteman II Mission Procedures Trainer Overview.

Please note Springfield Street, the road that leads to the museum’s entrance, is undergoing construction through the beginning of September. Expect lane reductions and some delays. Please follow the signs and instructions provided by the road crews.

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