Titan Missile Museum: Water Deluge

Hey everybody. I’m down here at the bottom of the silo, on a little platform the crew used to call “the diving board.” It’s right above the flame deflector, and it’s a good place to talk about the water deluge system. So come on down, the water’s fine. The water deluge system was required to safely launch the missile. So, a long time ago, like before Titan II, they didn’t really understand how that you could launch a missile out of a silo, and the issue is, the roar of the engine. The roar of the engine is so loud, that if you light up the engine in a little closed space like a silo like this, the roar…the vibrations caused by the roar are going to tear the missile apart. So, somehow, you have to figure out how to quiet the whole thing down just a little bit. And what they discovered – they had two methods for doing this. And one of them, you can see inside the silo. We have these large, silver-grey panels that are just filled with fiberglass, and they’re like the, they’re like tiles in your office ceiling, only they’re a lot bigger, and they just soak up sound, but that isn’t quite enough. So the second trick is the water deluge. Water deluge involves four great big nozzles, like these two, and like these two right here. And what happens is, just a few seconds before they light the engines, they start dumping water into the silo with these big nozzles. That water is aimed in such a way that it sprays directly into the exhaust stream from the engines. So what’s happening, is that they’re stealing energy from the exhaust that would normally go into making noise and they’re boiling water with it instead. So when you see a video or a film of a launch, all those…that big plumes coming up out of the silo, that’s not smoke, that’s steam, from the water injection system. So, where does all that water come from? The water comes from here. This is the 100,000 gallon [378,541 liters] hard water tank in the silo. This is the bottom of it, and if you look up the sides a little bit, you can kind of see some reflections off the lights up above us. The tank actually wraps around the launch duct a little bit. And right over here, is the drain for the water deluge system. So this is just a big pipe, connected directly to the bottom of the tank. So water is gravity fed into the deluge system – no pumping involved here – at about 40 psi [276 kPa]. And that 40 psi is just a result of the head pressure, because of the depth of the water above us that we’re talking about. So it just gravity drains down through here and into a valve on the level below. This is where the water comes from the tank, though now we’re on Level 8 and you see where it says “SPRAY WATER.” So follow the arrow (that’s the great thing about pipes here, they all have arrows on them, so you can see which way they’re going) and it comes into this big valve, right here, which opens automatically, at the right moment, and then the water flows through this big pipe, and then into the silo. So, there’s a quick explanation of the water deluge system and why it is so important in getting the missile out of here in one piece. Thanks for watching.

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