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US Missile Program

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Published on Jan 16, 2009

US Missile Program

The Cold War produced sweeping changes in the United States' military establishment and society at large. For more than 40 years the nation prepared to fight a war that never came. In the process, the United States reversed its longstanding tradition against maintaining a large peacetime military establishment, and at the same time harnessed the nation's industrial might and scientific genius to fashion the worlds most sophisticated weapons of war. High technology became the ultimate arbiter of military power, and nowhere was the impact of new technology more evident than on the nation's guided missile program. Armed with nuclear warheads, guided missiles quickly became the defining weapons technology of the Cold War.
In summary, the Cold War missile program left behind a large and diverse collection of artifacts and structures. Today, hundreds of Nike batteries and ICBM launch facilities still dot the countryside. These launch sites, however, reflect only a fraction of the massive U.S. investment in the Cold War missile program. Behind the launch facilities stood hundreds of research laboratories, test sites, production facilities, training centers, and logistics and maintenance facilities. Many of these sites are still in use, but many others have been closed down, put to other use, or simply abandoned. Before these structures and artifacts are either altered or destroyed, it is important that they be examined and cataloged to enable future generations to gain a better understanding of the historical and cultural legacy of the Cold War missile program.

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