When Ukraine became a nuclear weapon-free state - and all its many nuclear silos and bases had been dismantled - this command post and launch bunker was retained as a museum. It's staffed by former troops from the 46th Division of the 43rd Rocket Army ("Nizhniodniprovskaya Order of the October Revolution, Red Banner") who served at the base.
When you arrive at the museum there is an introductory video and then a tour of the ground level command post, which has been turned into an exhibition and display area. On the grounds of the base are an array of missiles, launchers, fueling vehicles, and assorted military bric-a-brac.
Among the dead nukes on the site is an SS 18 "Satan" missile. The Saran is a real doomsday machine, capable of carrying ten warheads of 750 kilotons each (the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima was 15KT, for comparison). The SS-18 was never stationed at the base, however. The silos controlled from this base housed medium-ranged nuclear weapons capable of destroying a fair chunk of central Europe.
The highlight of the tour is a trip down into the command bunker itself in a tiny lift that grinds its way down the thirty-meter, twelve-story blast-resistant tube to the bunker where the two man launch crew was based. The decommissioned launch room is much as it was back when it was still operational, with its chunky panels and screens. You can sit in the commanders seat - and you can press the launch button. The guides don't speak English, so if you don't speak Russian or Ukrainian you are missing out on a lot of the background information.
Know Before You Go
The museum is 30 kilometers north of Pervomaysk or an hour's taxi ride from Uman (just off the main Kiev to Odesa highway).
- Picasa Web Albums: Pressing the button - The Last Ukranian Nuclear Missile Base: http://picasaweb.google.com/Northern.cosmonaut/PressingTheButtonTheLastUkranianNuclearMissileBase#