Science: Watering Rocket Bases

In a shower-taking, lawn-dousing, pool-splashing nation that casually consumes about 300 billion gallons of water a day, it seems curious that water should be a national defense problem.

But it is—particularly to the U.S. Air Force, which is building a network of underground Atlas and Titan rocket-launching sites in the arid inland wastes of New Mexico, South Dakota and Oklahoma. In these areas available water is apt to be brackish, highly contaminated with minerals and salts that make it unpleasant and harmful for men and missiles alike. In addition to satisfying the need of parched humans, the bases must also slake the...

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