Strategic Missile Squadron
the home web site for the 577th Strategic Missile Squadron.
The 577thSMS was based at Altus Air Force Base in Altus, Oklahoma from
1962 thru 1965. There were 12 sites built in a ring around Altus. Eleven
of the silo complexes were in Oklahoma and one was located near of
Fargo, Texas. These sites were manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a
year during the time the Squadron was active. During the Cuban Missile
Crisis, all operational 577th sites were at a high level of alert and were
ready to launch the Atlas missile should it have become necessary. The
squadron was armed with the SM-65 weapon system, more commonly know as the
Atlas. The 577th was an Atlas F unit which meant the missile was housed in
a "silo launcher" style complex. The missile was kept in a
vertical position at all times. In order to launch, two 75-ton overhead
doors were opened and the "bird" was lifted out of the silo. The
Atlas ICBM required RP1 and Liquid Oxygen for powering the rocket engines.
The RP1 fuel was kept on board the missile at all times during alert.
Before the missile was lifted to the launch position, it was filled with the Liquid Oxygen fuel.
Internal pressure was maintained by a "head" of gaseous
Nitrogen. After the missile was "up and locked", if there was a
"hold" of any sort, which could not be very long, the launch crew had
the ability to "top off" the Liquid Oxygen before the "Missile
Away" command was given. This is one
reason that the response time of the Atlas F system was quicker than that
of the Atlas D and E systems. The Atlas F used a General Electric
Mark IV re-entry vehicle which carried a type W-38 warhead with a nuclear
yield of approximately 4 megatons of TNT. The Atlas had a range of
about 6,000 miles. Developed by General Dynamics, the Atlas weapons system
became a national priority during which no expense was spared in the
development, testing and implementation of this first generation ICBM
system. The Atlas rocket was also used by NASA during the early days of
manned space travel and was the booster used to put John Glenn into Earth
This web site is dedicated to everyone who served in the 577th Strategic
Missile Squadron. Without their dedication to the national defense of the United States, the
freedoms we enjoy today would not be possible.
To everyone who served in
the 577th SMS.......Thank You!!
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