NPS Minuteman Missile
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  • 2. Why South Dakota?

    A heavy fence encloses a yard with a missile silo inside. A brown sign identifies this site as "D-9"
    At the gate of Delta-09.

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    Stop Two: Why South Dakota?

    Let’s walk to the center of the fenced area.  Take a moment to look around you and absorb the seemingly endless expanse of prairie.  Most of western South Dakota is sparsely-inhabited ranch country.As far as the eye can see, there are grasslands stretching toward a vast horizon.  


    Remoteness was key to the United States Air Force basing the Minuteman here and in five other missile fields throughout the upper Midwest.  There are no large cities in this part of the country. Planners thought that this low population would limit casualties in the event of a nuclear war, as the presence of missiles made this area a primary target.  


    Missiles were also based here due to the relatively close proximity of northern-tier states to the Soviet Union.  A missile launched from Delta-09 could soar straight over the North Pole and strike targets deep within central Russia.  Minuteman II had a maximum range of over 6,000 miles, putting almost all Soviet targets within reach.