Guided Missile Control Facility #1, 18 May 1976
Guided Missile Control Facility #1 – MOD I era (GE photo)
MOD I tracking antenna trailer foundation as seen in 2012, Building to left does not appear in older photo
Workers at main entrance to GMCF #1 building (GE photo)
Main entrance to GMCF #1 building as seen in 2012
MOD III tracking antenna (GE photo)
Foundation of MOD III tracking antenna as seen in 2012
Less than one mile from the museum is a building complex that played an important part in early Atlas ballistic missile guidance development.
The complex was formally named the Guided Missile Control Facility No. 1 (GMCF No. 1), but was informally known to Cape workers as the GE Guidance Center. The “GE” being a reference to General Electric Company, the developer of the guidance radar. There was more than radar installed at this facility. The guidance computer for the early Atlas missile was co-located with the radar.
Working together, the guidance computer and the radar made up the early guidance system for rockets such as Thor, Atlas and Titan. The most significant development was for the Atlas, military designation WS-107A. During missile development, the radar and computers were upgraded several times. A 1976 view in the photo gallery shows the site as it looked with the MOD III radar and the MOD III guidance computer in permanent buildings.
The Atlas Radio Guidance System display at our museum shows an MOD I radar configuration with the radar exciters and antennas mounted in trailers in the late 1950s. Raised foundations with concrete ramps were built to park these trailers at GMCF No. 1. The MOD I era can be recognized by the trailers and mobile antennas. As development progressed, a concrete building and a substantial tracking antenna foundation were built for the MOD III equipment.
A locally produced GE publication (circa 1966) “The Big Countdown” summarizes the first ten years of the facility.
Burroughs MOD I Guidance Computer
The Burroughs MOD I Guidance Computer display at the museum shows the type of computer once installed at this site in the late 1950s. Two MOD I guidance computers were once installed at GMCF #1. These were later upgraded and one MOD I was eventually replaced with a Burroughs MOD III (R&D) guidance computer.
As with most facilities at the Cape, the GMCF No. 1 buildings have had multiple missions over their lifetime. The last use of this facility was as a Delta II rocket supply point.