The Center for Land Use Interpretation Newsletter

The Missile Silos of Roswell

Extraterrestrial Redevelopment

1124Bob Lazar’s Project Terraform site, in an old silo near Roswell, is reportedly funded by Hollywood personalities including William Shatner. Walt Cotten photo
PERHAPS THE MOST UNUSUAL COLLECTION of ICBM silo conversions can be found, not surprisingly, around Roswell, New Mexico. Starting in 1961, twelve Atlas silos were built in a ring around Walker Air Force Base, a SAC base on the outskirts of town. Each of the sites was manned by five people, who entered the subterranean Launch Control Center via a staircase bulkhead, one of the few structures visible on the surface at these sites.

The Atlas program shut down just a few years after it was started, due primarily to changes in technology (a movement away from liquid-fueled rockets). The silos around Roswell were stripped and vacated, but were not destroyed. Though some became flooded by groundwater, many remain accessible to this day, and are in the hands of private citizens.

Among the interesting re-uses is a silo west of town which has been converted into a sort of extraterrestrial communication facility. Called the Starlite (, the silo contains a powerful laser which points up into space, and flashes a binary code that contains data or other messages. The facility opened commercially on New Years Eve 1999, and is now open for business. The fenced and gated site is north of Highway 70. The open silo doors and black office trailers are all that is visible at the surface.

Another silo conversion in the area is called Project Terraform (, which involves the creation of a Martian environment in the underground silo and control structures. The project seems to be intended as a commercial research facility, to study the viability of colonizing Mars. It was begun in 1997 by a Hollywood visual effects supervisor named Jon Farhat (who holds credits for films that include The Mask and Nutty Professor), along with Bob Lazar, fabled ex-Area 51 employee and explosives enthusiast. While fundraising and design of the project continues, the site is being listed as available for use as a film storage vault.

Given the booming UFO economy in Roswell, and the increasing interest in these structures, no doubt there are more unusual re-uses of missile silos in the region yet to be completed or discovered. Consider also that Roswell’s Walker Air Force Base was just one of eleven bases across the country selected to be ringed with silos for this phase of the Atlas ICBM program, and that Atlas was just one of a few ICBM programs that were phased in and out in the United States. So there are hundreds of other silos out there in private hands, with more surprises in store.