Safeguard Site Configuration
Discounting prototype facilities, the Grand Forks facility became the only location in America ever to host an ABM defense system. Unlike proposed ABM sites in Massachusetts and Montana where only traces remain of once massive construction efforts, much remains intact in North Dakota.
Aside from the Egyptian pyramids, the Safeguard PAR may be the most solidly constructed building in the world. The structure is truly one-of-a-kind as, unlike the MSR, no prototype PAR had been built. The building is 204 by 213 feet at the base and rises to over 120 feet. The structure's northern-faced antenna wall slopes away from the ground at a 25 degree angle. This antenna face wall consists of a dense reinforced concrete mesh 7 feet thick. The three other walls are also dense reinforced concrete and have a base of 8 feet, tapering to 3 feet at the top. The reinforcing bars, installed vertically, horizontally, and diagonally, are No. 11 gauge; each bar is approximately as thick as a man's wrist. The structure required 63,000 cubic yards of concrete and 8,700 tons of reinforcing steel.
The interior of this completely above-ground structure includes five full floors with a mezzanine located between the second and third floors. Entrance to the building requires passing through two blast locks or through a tunnel leading from the power plant.
The adjacent power plant was housed in a partially buried hardened concrete structure covered with earth for addition blast protection. Inside the plant, five 16-cylinder diesel engines could combine to produce 14.7 megawatts of power. Provisions for emergency operations of the plant included storage for fuel supplies and a recirculating water cooling system featuring an underground storage cavern as a heat sink.
Located some 25 miles from the PAR facility, the Missile Site Radar facility consisted of the Missile Site Control Building (MSCB) and collocated Spartan and Sprint missile launch areas. The MSCB, which housed the radar, had above-ground and below-ground sections. Above ground was a four-sided truncated pyramid; each side had a 30-foot diameter antenna mounted integrally into the 3-foot thick reinforced concrete walls. Each antenna weighed nearly 400 tons and placing the units entailed overcoming unique engineering problems.
Below the pyramid stood a two-story 231- by 231-foot structure housing the radar transmitting and receiving components, phase shifters, switching gear, and other necessary subsystems. As with the PAR, the MSCB also had an adjoining underground power plant. With six diesel generators, this plant could produce up to 17.3 megawatts of power.
As part of the Missile Site Radar facility, prefabricated launch canisters for Spartan and Sprint launches stood ready to launch the defensive missiles. Sprint launchers were also placed at four remote site locations located to the east, west, north, and south of the MSCB.
With manpower requirements at both sites consuming over 1,000 personnel, support and housing facilities were built adjoining the structures.