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Launching a Titan Missile isn't that hard

After a visit to the Titan Missile Museum, I wonder if I could have pushed the button.

The tip of an original Titan missile pokes up through the launch silo at the Titan Missile Museum near Tucson, Ariz. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

SAHUARITA, Ariz.--I've just emerged from the bottom of a Titan missile silo, and I think I now understand a little bit more about what it took to be one of the people responsible for pushing the buttons that could have started World War III.

I was at the Titan Missile Museum in this tiny desert town near Tucson, as part of Road Trip 2007, my tour around the Southwest, and it's quite the experience.

They take you deep, deep underground, into the guts of a thermonuclear weapon launching facility, and you even get to push the button. More on that later, in the full story I'll post about this visit that will go along with a more complete photo gallery.

But for now, I'll just say that the folks who were posted to this hole in the ground, secure from the dangers of the world, real and imagined, might well have been drilled into professional insanity at the time, but by now, they're pretty reasoned folks. At least, just minutes after meeting Yvonne Morris, a former crew commander at this facility, which was a real Titan Missile launch base, that's my conclusion. You can ask me later when I've had time to process the surreality of this experience.

The Titan missile, as seen from the bottom of the silo. Daniel Terdiman/CNET