Boeing launches its first Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) from Cape Canaveral on February 1, 1961.

  • By Walt Crowley
  • Posted 9/14/2001
  • Essay 3567

On February 1, 1961, Boeing launches its prototype Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) from Cape Canaveral. The three-stage, solid-fueled rocket is designed for storage in and rapid launch from underground silos or special railroad cars to retaliate for any surprise nuclear attack.

Design of the Minuteman system began in 1959 and the Strategic Air Command ultimately deployed more than 1,000 later generation Minuteman II and III missiles at six vast silo launch complexes around the United States. Now undergoing avionic and other upgrades, some 500 Minuteman III missiles remain on alert in Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota "missile fields" as part of the United States shrinking but still potent post-Cold War strategic defense arsenal.


Boeing historical chronology, Boeing history website (

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