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Military Origins of the Space Race

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By 1970 the Minuteman was modified so it could be retargeted quickly. To accomplish this, the Air Force had chosen in 1962 a new and untested technology--the integrated circuit, or silicon "chip"--for an improved guidance computer. Minuteman production contracts helped bring the chip from the laboratory into the consumer marketplace.

The chips shown here were among the early development models produced by Texas Instruments for the Minuteman program.

Lent by the National Museum of American History

Minuteman chip
189 k jpeg
SI#: 97-16250-11
A Minuteman III guidance ring on display with its computers and gyroscopes.
Minuteman III Guidance Ring
Operational Minuteman missiles are tested about three times a year. The Air Force selects a missile at random, removes its warheads, and ships the missile to Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. From there it is fired at a test target about 7,700 kilometers (4,800 miles) away in the Marshall Islands of the South Pacific. These tests provide data on the accuracy and reliability of Minuteman components and the effects of aging on its solid propellant.
Minuteman launch
75 k jpeg
NARA#: KE 53796
Senior Missile Man pin The Minuteman missileer's technical order bag contained instructions for launch and related necessities, as well as a deck of cards for the long hours on duty in the missile silo. The pin bears the Senior Missile Man insignia.

Gift of Capt. Robert F. Moore, USAF

Pin gift of U.S. Air Force

Objects for missile men
60 k jpeg
SI#: 97-16250-4

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