Wednesday, March 6, 2013


In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnick. To this demonstration of rocket capacity, the United States responded with a vigorous and focused effort to develop both space and ICBM programs.  By 1963, after a 3 year development program, the US began to deploy the first of its 54 Titan II Missiles as part of the Mutual Assured Destruction strategy (MAD) and the world lived with a balance of deterrence. This theory postulated that the Soviet Union would not use a nuclear weapon since it recognized that the United States would retaliate with its own nuclear arsenal that would obliterate the Soviet Union itself.  The plan clearly depended on the rationality of the two main adversaries.

From 1966 to about 1985, our 54 Titan missiles, each with a single 9 megaton hydrogen warhead, guaranteed our security.  Eighteen were located over an extensive region in the desert area south of Tucson.  It took only 58 seconds to launch the missile after the command was given to the four man crew at each missile silo.  The missile would take about 30 minutes to travel its full 6,300 mile range to one of the three sites that had been pre-targeted for each particular missile.  The crew did not know the destination of the single missile for which they were responsible, except by numbers 1, 2 or 3.   

Control Room

Shock Absorbers to insulate the entire missile silo from an enemy atomic blast

OOPS! Bob turns key to fire the missile.

Titan missile in its silo, ready to be launched
In the mid-1980’s the liquid fueled Titan II missile was replaced by the solid fueled Minuteman Missile then stationed in the north central parts of the US.  After it was decommissioned as a weapon, the Titan missile had many iterations that were used in space launches for both military and non-military purposes. No launch ever failed. The Titan was retired after its last ignition in 2005 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Titan missile, originally developed as the ultimate military deterrent, achieved its greatest successes as the launching platform for at least 10 manned space flights of the Gemini program, multiple interplanetary probes, many weather and communications satellites.  In retrospect, with all its successes, it may be best known as the great peace keeper during the Cold War era. 

For more information about this particular missile site:

And for more information about the Titan missile in general:

Photos courtesy of our friend, Kirk DeNee

Sunday, March 3, 2013


In 1974, about 40 miles south of Tucson near the town of Benson, two teen age boys explored a sink hole formed by a surface collapse over limestone rock. They crawled through a small opening, the size of a rounded wire coat hanger, into a passageway that led to a large underground room--- the first of at least two large rooms that they were to discover and explore over the next several years.  They were committed to keeping the existence and whereabouts of the cave an absolute secret so that it would not be “trashed” by unwanted visitors in such a way as to “kill it.”  Caves are living ecosystems. When exposed to the air and visited by unmonitored people who could scratch their names in the rocks, break off samples, or remove specimens, they die and become inert holes in the earth.  Ultimately, the two young men had to enlarge the circle of people who knew of the cave from the landowners (the Kartchners) to state officials whose approval and legislative know-how would be necessary to preserve the caves in the Arizona State Park system.  25 years after the discovery of this treasure, the Kartchner caves were opened with a triple air lock entry system, washable concrete walkways separated from the cave surface and limited lighting to promote the preservation of the cave’s ecosystem. Because of all these efforts, these caves are truly preserved.  The Kartchner Caves are unique in the country--- and possibly the world.

For more information about the discovery of the Kartchner Caves, click

As you can understand, no personal photography was allowed in the caves.
For official photos, click