How to Launch a Nuclear Missile
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How to Launch a Nuclear Missile


During the Cold War the US and the Soviet Union
had to build underground silos to house nuclear missiles that could be launched
at a few minutes notice. Now, one of the technical challenges they had
to overcome that you might not think of is acoustics. Launching a missile in such a confined silo generates a loud sound, so loud that it would’ve
shaken apart the missiles before they could even launch. So the walls of the inside of the silo had to be covered in acoustically absorbent tiles, very similar to those in the world’s quietest room. But after all of the technical challenges were sorted, what I wanted to know was
‘how could they have launched these missiles very quickly, if needed, but also never by accident?’ So I visited one of these Titan missile silos
in the Arizona desert to find out exactly what it would have taken
to launch a nuclear missile. Well, Derek this is level 2 of the silo, we are
down some 10 meters below the surface now. And this… is the launch duct. — Wow.
— And that is Titan II. The largest and most powerful missile weapons system
ever deployed by the United States. And what kind of bomb is in there? That is a thermonuclear bomb. It is a 9 megaton weapon. Compared to Hiroshima? Oh, call it 650 times. An enormously powerful weapon. And what was the idea with it? The idea behind Titan II was to instill
enough fear in the mind of the enemy, to cause them to think twice about launching an attack against us. Knowing that 10 meters below the desert in our fortified concrete bunker, we could ride out their first strike, and live to retaliate,
if we’re forced to do that, the consequences for the enemy
would be so unspeakably horrible that maybe they would prefer not to
get into it with us in the first place. That’s the essence of deterrence. This missile is no longer active,
but the launch system is preserved. And I wanted an insight into how it felt
to control this incredible power. Can we go launch one? I thought you’d never ask! There were 54 of these silos, each one
staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Ready to launch their missiles on the exclusive order of
the President of the United States. Alright then, have a seat here Commander. Thank you. So, this is the control center, this is where
the crew waited to launch the missile. And how do we know when we need to launch? [Speaker beeping] On radio: ‘Alpha, 2, 3, Charlie, Hotel, Victor’
(A23CHV) So, we’re going to write down every letter and number
that we hear in a form in this notebook. I’m going to write it down in this notebook. We’ll compare each other’s work.
If we agree that we’ve copied the message correctly, then we have what’s called a ‘valid message,’ and authorization to take our lock off the big red safe. You know your combination, I know mine,
we don’t know each other, so we both have to agree to get inside. Inside we find authenticator cards. I’ll give those to you. In the secret message, they sent us
a seven-character code word. We’re going to look at the first two letters of
the code word, we’re going to find the authenticator that has those first two letters. If the card here matches the code word they sent us,
then this is a legitimate order to go. That gives us permission to put in our launch keys.
I’ve already put them in for us. Key right here for you, commander.
And for me there’s a key right over here. The keys are far enough apart that not even
a long-armed guy like me can reach them both. The keys must be turned within 2 seconds of each other and held, they’re spring loaded, so held for 5 seconds to start the launch. That guarantees that two people
will be required to do it. You just can’t run back and forth and do it yourself. And last but not least, we need
the secret unlock code for the missle. Six little wheels. Each little wheel
has 16 letters of the alphabet. Nominally 17 million combinations. Only one will operate the missile. This is the fail safe that prevents an unauthorized
or accidental launch of the missle. So once we have all those things:
authentication, keys, code, we’re good to go. — All set?
— Let’s do it. Give me a countdown, “3-2-1 Turn keys”,
we’ll send this thing on it’s way. After you comander. 3… 2… 1… Turn keys. And hold. Okay, you may release. That’s all there is to it. The green light turns on. Its says “Launch enable”. For all intents and purposes,
that should say “Welcome to World War III” Because that’s pretty much what it boils down to. When you turn the key you are committed.
There is no “Oops” switch anywhere. When the batteries come to full power,
the missile will transfer to internal power, meaning that it is fully independent. About that same time, the silo door starts to slide open. It will slide through security radar beams
and set off the alarm. That gives us “Silo Soft”. “Guidance Go” means the internal guidance computer
has full control of the mission. In a few seconds we’ll have main engine start. From engine start we will build up thrust. Pump the hold down bolts. And off you go. Into the wild we know. So that’s it? We just basically just ended life on Earth. As you know it. In these silos, the Titan missiles
had a terrifying purpose. But they were also put to much better uses,
minus their war-head of course. For example, the Voyager spacecraft was launched
into space atop a Titan III missile. And Neil Armstrong took his first
flight into space atop a Titan II. The exact same missile that would have delivered
nuclear warheads to the Soviet Union. So the Cold War didn’t only bring us this fear
and potential of mutually assured destruction, it also made space exploration possible. Now I want to say thank you to everyone for writing in
to request that this documentary be played in your area. Thanks to you, we’ve managed to get it broadcast
in Norway, Sweden and the Middle East. And details are in the description, so check it out. For everyone else, the documentray will be
available online via our broadcasters though there may be some geo-blocking restrictions. But I’m pretty confident that anyone who wants to see
the documentary will be able to via those means. So I hope you watch it, I hope you enjoy it.
It premiers in just a few days in the US. That’s July 28th:
10pm Eastern, 9 Central. For more details check out links in the description. I hope you check it out and I really hope you enjoy it. I appreciate so much your support. It means everything to me.
So again, thanks for watching.

100 thoughts on “How to Launch a Nuclear Missile

  1. I wonder who this is intended to impress?. This is Stone age stuff, what if upon launch the enemy does not let it leave the silo? What if during flight it got shot down over the USA? Too much ifs and buts, get rid of them and let's stop live in fear

  2. "Sure Mr Trump, we trust you with one of these…no problem. "
    After-all, the world is filled with shithole countries …
    America first = America isolated.

  3. A lot of paste tense in this video but its worth remembering there are still 5000 deployed (15,000 stock) nuclear warheads in submarines and bunkers all around the world

  4. from the american indian wars to the largest stockpile of nuclear warheads. I dont think the Sioux or whatever Indian knew or even understood what they would have to deal with lolll. if they have been just 50% aware of it welll, lolll who knows ???

  5. 1. It didnt say how it was aimed.
    2. Nice somber music to fit the apocalyptic theme.
    3. Solem face of Derek.
    4. The sequence is analog, even hand operated. Thus making the scenario in terminator 3 kinda impossible….unless….
    5. End of the world as you know it, since the old guy would survive.

  6. GEN Stephen J. Townsend: Hey i need permission to lauch a military nuclear missile!!!
    Donald Trump: Sure, aslong as its firing to the mexican borders and my walls stay up.
    GEN Stephen J. Townsend: Ummmm… yeah but when I asked you to give me permission it was meant to blow up your wall sir..
    Donald Trump: Then get the hell out of here and also your fired!!!!!

  7. These are Judaeo-Freemason Vatican (Jesuit) inventions, this the Science Fiction that you repeat:
    1543 – Theory Heliocentricism
    1582 – Heliocentric calendar (Pope Gregorian calendar)
    1651 – Theory Mapping Moon (Selenography)
    1763 – Theory Atomic Energy
    1809 – Theory Transmutation of Species
    1923 – Theory Missing Link (bones lost, molds prove find)
    1931 – Theory Big Bang (another ejaculation into the virgin source)

    Theory – SPACE (Big Bang)
    ATOM, remove Electron create Explosion
    Evolution, requires you an APE like creature to consume flesh and blood

    Faith – HEAVEN (Holy Spirit)
    ADAM, remove Rib create Women
    Creationism, the HE God gave you the clean and unclean animals for food

  8. And for 20 years the launch code for minutemen was set to 8 "0's". Congress voted for the extra fail safe to prevent armageddon, but military didn't think we really needed it. Madness.

  9. Going to the moon was a cover up to fool the American public in order for our military to test and build these nuclear missiles which were used in both these programs.

  10. Wow, that was eery when they were in the launch room! It's mind boggling to think humanity could cease to exist by the turn of a couple keys. Opening the doors of Oblivion…

  11. Lord have Mercy on us. I hope we don't have to live to see that. Love; Hope; Faith. In JESUS CHRIST'S name. Amen

  12. The Space Age started with an ICBM attack on London, by the Nazis, on 8 September 1944. The V2 rocket was 14 metres (46ft) high and carried a ton (900 kg) of explosives. It gouged a crater 10m (32ft) across, killed three people and injured 22.
    Flight altitude was 88 km (55 mi) maximum altitude on long-range trajectory, or 206 km (128 mi) maximum altitude if launched vertically. This took it above the Kármán line, or edge of space.

  13. 1 missile. We just ended life. My response, No you stupid ass idiot. It would take tons of them hitting all cities, rural areas of the planet. People follow the dumbest people.

  14. So officially the most impossible thing in america is to get a evil second guy having the same mindset as the first guy..since no unauthorised launches have yet happened..

  15. I really loved the reaction on his face throughout the documentary. His face showed that he was concerned and sad Deep Inside his heart and was not excited in anyway because he knew the consequences of the destruction and he did not acted like Priyanka Chopra the Indian actress who supports war on twitter. Respect

  16. So because we also explored parts of space with the thing its development is partly good? These weapons are an absolute disgrace to the human race. We would rather end all life on earth than retaliate or succumb by the evil of one nation. Mutually assured destruction is the biggest thinking error of the 20st century and still is. It shows that us humans are smart enough to develop certain technologies but too stupid to responsibly use it. Let's push that button anyway..

  17. You never think about it but whoever launches the missile will be responsible for millions of men women and children

  18. Bet this man has been thru more radiation that the scientists at Chernobyl. I wouldn't be surprised if one day he comes out with cancer. Great videos tho!

  19. The 2 keys should be further apart and maybe add a 3rd key to prevent 1 man launches. I bet they have fingerprint authorization too these days.

  20. Meanwhile, back here in USA, were still burning tons of coal, Global Warming continues ;
    https://youtu.be/V1TAikGetHY   (youtube link)

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