50 Years in the Mountain

Colorado Springs, Colo. Cheyenne Mountain AFS, Colo., on Friday celebrated the 50th anniversary of reaching full operations with a windy ceremony just outside the entrance to the complex’s north portal. The 5.1-acre underground facility reached FOC on April 20, 1966. Gen. John Hyten, commander of Air Force Space Command, served as mission director from 1994 to 1996, and said there is no feeling “like walking into the mountain to go to work every day to protect your nation.” The “citadel of granite, forged for our common security against America’s worst threats” is a “cathedral of American ingenuity,” he said. The complex is managed by the 21st Space Wing at nearby Peterson Air Force Base, and houses the 721st Mission Support Group in its 150,000-square feet of office space. The 3.5-foot thick steel blast doors, which weigh 25 tons each, were kept closed during the Cold War but are now kept open—the last time they slammed shut was Sept. 11, 2001. “Cold War threats may have been the inspiration and driver to build the Cheyenne Mountain complex, but 50 years later, this facility is still America’s fortress,” Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said.