The missile's significance has been central to national security since the Soviet launching of Sputnik, and became increasingly important throughout the years of the Cold War. Much has been written about missile technology, but little has been written about how the development and deployment of this weapon affected Americans. The missile was developed to both deter war but also to win war. Its presence, however, was not always reassuring.
Three areas of the United States are studied to evaluate the social implications of the missile during these pivotal years: San Francisco, home of multiple Nike installations; of Cape Canaveral, Florida, the nation's primary missile test center; the Great Plains, the location of the largest ICBM concentration in the country. Interviews were conducted, tours of facilities were taken, and local newspapers were reviewed. In conjunction with national newspapers and magazines and public opinion polls, this information provided a local social context for missile history. Nationally and locally, Americans both feared and praised the new technology. They were anxious for government funding in their cities and often felt that the danger the missile brought to their communities by making it as a Soviet target was justified in the larger cause for national security.