Major Locales of the Titan I Complex

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| Fuel Terminal | Blast Locks | Launcher Air Filtration | Propellant Terminals |

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Fuel Terminal

The first junction you reach along the launcher tunnels is #12, the fuel terminal.  It is rather a mess now but used to house the fuel transfer panel (shown further below) and other monitoring and fire suppression equipment.  Oh yeah, and the fuel too obviously...

Fig. 4 T.J.#12 - Fuel Terminal


Some Ramblings on the Titan I missile and Propellants

When on alert, fuel is stored inside the Titan missiles to facilitate a faster launch.  This has the added benefit of removing the chance of any failures that might prevent fueling to complete properly and helps simplify the already lengthily launch checklist.  The Titan I airframe is essentially a series of self-supporting propellant and oxidizer tanks strapped together and comprising 2 stages.  The self-supporting structure that allows the airframe to be void of propellant and oxidizer is in direct contrast to the early Atlas missiles that, in order to lend structural integrity to the airframe required the tanks to be pressurized.  The reason for this was that in order to reduce weight the Atlas missiles were constructed of very thin sheet metal about the thickness of a dime; without being pressurized and/or filled with fuel or propellant they could (and sometimes did) collapse like a punctured rubber raft. (link from:, copyright Gary Baker.  Excellent site.  Go visit!)


If the fuel should be off-loaded from the missile, it is piped here into the RP-1 tank in the fuel terminal.  RP-1, short for "Rocket Propellant 1", is basically kerosene which has been highly refined.  Since the Titan I is a 2 stage rocket there are 2 fuel tanks, one for each stage.  


Since the trajectory of an ICBM passes out of the atmosphere, it cannot rely on oxygen in the surrounding environment to facilitate oxidation of it's RP-1 fuel.  Of course the presence atmospheric oxygen is of little use since the atmosphere typically contains only 20% oxygen.  The air is neither pure enough or concentrated enough to provide the massive thrust needed to launch a missile weighing in excess of 200,000 pounds.  Furthermore, oxygen could never be supplied from the air to the rocket motors fast enough to oxidize the huge amount of RP-1 at the desired rate to produce the thrust required.  


As a result, missiles of this sort must bring their own oxidizer along just to burn the propellant.  Without a huge quantity of oxidizer the missiles would fizzle out at a certain altitude and never rain down on Moscow, instead perhaps crashing rather rudely somewhere well short of the desired target.  Most embarrassing.


The oxidizer used by the Titan I is liquid oxygen (aka: LOX) and of course each stage of the Titan must have a separate tank of LOX as well as fuel.  Stage I held approximately 7750 gallons of RP-1 and 12,400 gallons of LOX; stage II held approximately 2027 gallons of RP-1 and 2985 gallons of LOX.  All totaled that's 25,162 gallons of fuel and oxidizer.  That makes for some serious weight, particularly when it needs to be accelerated to escape velocity (>7 miles/sec.) and the total weight at launch is 201,500 lbs.  Nearly all the energy used in a launch was simply to move the missile, and more specifically, its fuel and propellants to apogee so it could drop the (comparatively small) payload on it's unwilling recipients.


Owing to the fact that it takes a huge amount of energy to move this relatively small re-entry vehicle, I'm reminded of something my dear Grandfather used to say when he saw a bicyclist pedaling hard: "He sure is moving his legs to give his butt a ride."

This is Airman 1st Class Brannon checking out the fuel transfer panel.  He'll be appearing from time to time throughout the complex.  The transfer panel is long gone now and it's rather difficult to recognize the fuel terminal from the pictures below, but you'll have to trust me.


I'm not sure why the transfer panel would have been removed.  It doesn't strike me as a piece of equipment that could be easily reused.  Perhaps the salvage contractor retrofitted it and made a unique side-by-side refrigerator/freezer out of it.



Here we see a North American Rubber-booted CHUD being guided through the complex by one of the legendary Silo Gnomes, long believed to inhabit these abandoned sites.  Or more probably its some guy in boots and a schmuck in a smock on their way into the fuel terminal.  You decide.



The water here is about 3 feet deep and has a lovely crust of dark red rust and other scum floating on the surface.  The "eyeball" at left is from dripping water.


As you might imagine, footing gets rather dicey in this area.  Those with inner ear problems are discouraged from here on out.


This junction is fairly typical having an inner diameter of 16 feet, which provides the low areas which you can see are flooded here as are most in the complex.


More scuzzy water!  To the left is the doorway leading to the RP-1 tank.  The fuel transfer panel once stood near the boots at the top of the photo.



The RP-1 tank in its warren.  This tank could hold enough fuel for all 3 missiles with plenty to spare-- around 40,000 gallons.


A fire suppression system in the fuel terminal used CO2 to asphyxiate a fire near the fuel tank.  Fire sensors triggered in the storage area would open valves to 3 cylinders of carbon dioxide to (hopefully) snuff out a blaze by displacing the oxygen in the area.

An array of nitrogen tanks next to the fuel tank.  Nitrogen was used to pressurize the tank and fuel lines and also acted as a desiccant to remove moisture from the fuel system.



One last look back down the tunnel towards T.J. #10 before continuing on.  The glowing eyes of a giant cave rat are visible in the distance.

Further down the tunnels is Blast Lock #2 and Launcher #1, or you can head elsewhere below:

Current Location: Fuel Terminal

Power House Control Center Fuel Entry Portal Power House Air Intake Power House Air Exhaust Main Tunnel Jucntion Main Map To Antenna Tunnel To Blast Lock #2

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