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Minuteman Missile Technology
LGM-30A "Minuteman I" BOEING
      Development of the Minuteman began early in 1958 and progressed rapidly. It had its first full-scale, three-stage test firing on February 1, 1961 and became operational with the Strategic Air Command late in 1962. The success of the Minuteman program permitted the phasing-out of liquid-fueled Atlas and Titan I ICBMs in the mid-1960s. In 1965 SAC began to incorporate Minuteman II missiles into its inventory, an improved version with greater range, payload and accuracy. Eventually, operational Minuteman I and II ICBMs were dispersed at six USAF bases in the central and northern plains states.
Length: 55 ft. 9 in.
Diameter: Approximately 6 ft. at the widest point
Weight: 65,000 lbs. at launch
Armament: Nuclear warhead
Engines: Three solid-propellant rocket engines: first stage of 167,000 pounds thrust, second stage of 49,200 pounds thrust, and a third stage of 18,900 pounds thrust.
Cost: $1,315,000
Max. speed: Over 15,000 mph. / 13,035 knots
Max. range: +6,300 statute miles / 5,475 nautical miles
Max. altitude: 700 statute miles / 608 nautical miles
      The Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is the most advanced version of the solid-propellant series of weapons and offers greater range than the Minuteman I and II. Its larger nuclear payload consists of multiple independently-targeted reentry vehicles (MIRV) which, with such aids as chaff and decoys, increase its chances of penetrating enemy defenses.
     The Minuteman I became operational in 1962 and three years later, Minuteman II reached the same status. Minuteman I sites were later modified to accept the improved -II and -III versions, permitting the updating of the entire Minuteman force of approximately 1,000 missiles scattered at launch sites in central and northern plains states. On June 19, 1970, the Strategic Air Command at Minot AFB, North Dakota, accepted the first operational Minuteman IIIs. A flight of ten launchers has a launch control center located approximately 50 feet underground. To prevent an unauthorized launch, it requires the coordinated efforts of two-man teams of SAC launch control officers to fire one of these missiles skyward from its hardened underground silo.
Length: 59 ft. 10 in.
Diameter: Approximately 6 ft. at the widest point
Weight: 78,000 pounds at launch
Armament: Nuclear warheads
Engines: Three solid-propellant rocket engines; first, second and third stages of 200,000, 60,600, and 34,000 pounds of thrust respectively
Cost: $1,818,000
Max. speed: 15,000 mph / 13,035 knots
Max. range: Over 8,000 statute miles / 6,952 nautical miles
Max. altitude: 700 statute miles / 608 nautical miles