North Dakota - Oscar-Zero Missile Facility

Oscar-Zero Missile Alert Facility
Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile State Historic Site

Oscar-Zero was one of 15 alert facilities across North Dakota managed by the 321st Strategic Missile Wing of the Air Force. It was operational from 1965-1997 and is now the only one that tourists can visit, as most of them have been destroyed. At the bottom of a slow elevator ride, you come out to the center of a long subterranean building. These photos look into the equipment half of the building. The blast doors are 54 inches thick to protect everything and everyone down there in case of attack while staffing the facility during a crisis.

A sampling of the equipment. There are several shock isolators around the building, hydraulic cylinders keeping the floor and ceiling the appropriate distance apart no matter what may occur.

The incredibly thick door and hallway leading into the launch control center. It was of utmost criticality to protect this room so that missiles could be launched in retaliation under any circumstance. Under normal operations (maintenance or training), the warning above the door is needed - a minimum of two people in the facility at any time, so that no one gets accidentally locked in the room (or, theoretically, injured by equipment, but locking was the main fear) unwitnessed.

These are on the other side of that thick hallway. I don't know what is represented by the artwork over the door, something with sun and snow. Many occupants of the room have signed in over the years.

The launch control center has plenty of equipment of its own. Among these towers of state-of-the-art 1960s electronics are fault monitors and fault isolators. You can see the first officer's desk cabinet is on a track - as well as the chair itself, keeping personnel and their needed supplies next to the console in the event of a big shake (bomb, earthquake, monster attack, large worm).

Another, more decorative desk cabinet.

I don't know what these two towers do, or even what a hard ute summary fault unit does, but I can connect the keyboard stations with the modem.

One of the two main consoles in the building, this is the status console that monitors all of the connected missiles that this facility could launch. Apparently the secondary flight group is less decertified than the primary group, and state-of-the-art communications in 1965 incuded rotary dial. Some of my favorite status lights are align (looks like "alien"), interrogate, and warhead alarm.

The monitor and alarm panel sits over the status console, intended to be commanded by the same person. (It's just a different set of statuses, for equipment instead of missiles.) I wonder what the swirly black button does.

Here's the other major panel, the command console, with its own rotary dial phone and its own swirly black button. The 24-hour clock is on top of the console but no longer runs (it was 10:23 at the time of this photo), and the keyboard-printer is at bottom left.

Artwork was not just painted out of boredom. Like the decoration on Air Force planes, it was painted out of pride. Hard to be more proud than this.

Tour the rest of the Minuteman State Historic Site at November-33

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