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Author Topic: Cold War Minuteman launch code revealed?
GameSkink
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
To launch a Minuteman in those days, one had to "unlock" the missile by dialing in a code -- the equivalent of a safety catch on a handgun. However, Blair reports, the U.S. Strategic Air Command was worried that a bunch of sissy safety features might slow things down. It ordered all locks set to 00000000 -- and in launch checklists, reminded all launch officers like Blair to keep the codes there. "So the 'secret unlock code' during the height of the nuclear crises of the Cold War," Blair says, "remained constant at 00000000."

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/stories/2004/05/27/007.html

Interesting if true, but the source probably isn't the most reliable one.

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Delta-V
Xboxing Day


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That's Amazing! I've got the same combination on my luggage!

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"My neighbor asked why anyone would need a car that can go 190 mph. If the answer isn't obvious, and explaination won't help." - Csabe Csere

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Malruhn
The "Was on Sale" Song


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DO YOU REALIZE HOW CLOSE YOU WERE TO STARTING WWIII JUST TO GET A PAIR OF CLEAN SKIVVIES?!?!

[lol]

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Opinions aren't excuses to remain ignorant about subjects, nor are they excuses to never examine one's beliefs & prejudices...

Babies are like tattoos. You see other peoples' & they're cool, but yours is never as good & you can't get rid of it.

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Joe Bentley
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by Delta-V:
That's Amazing! I've got the same combination on my luggage!

YOMANK!

*Comic Book Guy Voice* Best Reference Ever

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"Existence has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long." - Rorschach, The Watchmen

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midaro
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Delta-V:
That's Amazing! I've got the same combination on my luggage!

i RECKON THAT GOES BACK TO THE mEL bROOKS CHARACTER IN sPACEBALLS.
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Warlok
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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Just to address the OP... Blair's quote is a little disengenious. The code input console's were supposed to be kept at 0000000 -- that is NOT the launch code itself. The rationale is that if they were always at 0 then everyone would know where to turn to get each number without having to think as much about it. That number did not enable or disable anything.

If faced with inputing 19475603 it is easier to do quickly from 00000000 than it is from 94859384. It's just the way the human mind is wired... So yes, codes consoles were set to zero and checklists reminded people to keep them there!

that "safety latch" is a LOT more than a switch on a handgun. It takes a lot more than just pushing one little lever to even prep a misle, much less target and launch the thing.

Much hoo-ha about nothing.

Warlok

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Inconceivable

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bufungla
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by Warlokat:
that "safety latch" is a LOT more than a switch on a handgun. It takes a lot more than just pushing one little lever to even prep a misle, much less target and launch the thing.

Much hoo-ha about nothing.

I was going to mention the need two person activation via separate mechanisms yards apart and such, but my knowledge is secondhand (although from actual friends, not FOAFs). Are/were you a "SAC trained killer"?

buf 'never SACumcised' ungla

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"Pardon him. Theodotus: he is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature."

George Bernard Shaw, Caesar and Cleopatra

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Warlok
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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Not a "SAC trained killer" -- but familiar with the systems, have been in silo's etc. Wouldn't say i'm an expert by any stretch, but I'm not talking out of my ___ either... [Wink]

BTW - the chairs are not "yards" apart, but they are far enough that you could not reach both consoles, or somehow "rig them."

Warlok

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Gibbie
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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Great Warlock, now that you've told us all this, are you going to have to kill us? [Big Grin]

Gibbie

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If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

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Delta-V
Xboxing Day


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quote:
Originally posted by Warlokat:
BTW - the chairs are not "yards" apart, but they are far enough that you could not reach both consoles, or somehow "rig them."

IIRC, they're about 12 feet apart, which would be 'yards' (4 of them). I do recall hearing something the other day on the History Channel where someone claimed he managed to rig a string to turn both keys by himself (just to see if he could do it, apparently), but I can't find any reference to it on the web. But in order to launch the missile, the system requires an additional outside 'vote', either from another Launch Control Center or an Airborne Command Post, so the missileers can't launch the missile by themselves.

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"My neighbor asked why anyone would need a car that can go 190 mph. If the answer isn't obvious, and explaination won't help." - Csabe Csere

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Warlok
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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Gibbie - no, we wont' have to kill you.

For the launch capsule -- they were in two configurations (some were converted from an earlier missle system). If the chairs were side by side, it was proably about 12 feet apart (from key to key) -- they chairs were on rails and could be closer - but not the needed keys.
Others were set in sort of a corner configuration. The equipment was basically a cube and the operators sat on two adjacent sides -- somewhat closer, but around the corner from each other.

Delta-V: I suspect people have attempted things liek that, but it is bad news for them. It would have to be more than a "string" though, these keys are not traditional door locks and there are other things involved that have to go on at the same time. It litteraly takes 4 hands. There are specific rules against attempting that, attempting to decipher codes etc. Anyone caught doing that would have at a minimum been taken off of missle duty and lost their clearance. Under SAC dasy they would als get an Art 15 at minimum -- pretty much flushing a career. If this guy did it, I'd say he was in the dumb-ass category.

Re: outside "votes." Let's just say that the system to enable, "arm" and launch a missle, or realease any other weapon for that matter has numerous and redundant fail safes. both to prevent accidents and to intentional but unauthroized employment.

Warlok

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Inconceivable

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Cowgal
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Well, I watched a video of a submarine launching a missle, and there was extensive, extensive!,procedures to launch. And that missle didn't have the power to kill a city.
In addition, these guys in the Minuteman silos probably practice so much that typing in the code wouldn't get in the way.

Cow"It's pronounced nuclear, the Y is silent."Gal

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ASL
We Three Blings


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Actually, a submarine's missile may have to power to destroy a city, in the case of a Ballstic Missile sub.

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"Dear Lord, please protect this rockethouse and all who dwell within..."

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Hans Off
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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I think cowgirl was referring to a Tomahawk launch from a sub rather than an ISBN launch (that can kill about 3 small cities!)

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"British English speakers point to Americans adding more syllables so that they can make even more noise without actually saying anything." Llewtrah


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