During the Cuban Missile crisis I was stationed at Fort Wainwright, Alaska. As it had on many other occasions during the "cold war," our battle group began those infamous, "13 Days" by going on alert. For the most part, that simply meant remaining in barracks and being "ready," (what ever that meant)! Then, unexpectedly, orders came down from command to move out, ostensibly to protect a SAC base (Eielson AFB), some 26 miles away.

In a condition of controlled pandemonium, our sergeants began hastily barking orders while the officers moved to and fro with eyes the size of dinner plates; the fear was palpable. Moving from tank to tank, I distributed ammo. In the vain hope that, were I suddenly exposed to a blinding light, I might survive an air burst from an incoming ICBM by positioning myself behind or under any armored vehicle positioned between me and the blast. Only 19 years old back then, I had high hopes, but nothing to base them on. From that day until now, 59 years later, I never stop wondering whether any of us had a snowball's chance in hell of survival if the USSR had launched an ICBM in our direction.

The nearest point between Russia and Fort Wainwright is 666 miles. How long would it have taken for Russia to hit us? If Russia attacked with an ICBM following a time-consuming, parabolic flight path, how much time would it have taken for us to get the warning? After we might have gotten the warning, how much time might we have had left to "duck and cover?"

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    $\begingroup$ Not relevant to space exploration. $\endgroup$ Commented May 22, 2020 at 23:57
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    $\begingroup$ The space-related part is this: how long does a suborbital missile goes to 666 miles away. On other important reasons, I would suggest to wait at least a single useful answer, even if the question will be closed (click "leave open" now, click "close" later). $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Commented May 23, 2020 at 0:39
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    $\begingroup$ @RussellBorogove in this answer where the ICBM goes from the US to Russia you wrote a well-received answer; now with the ICBM going in the other direction why would it suddenly be off-topic? Why block others from answering? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented May 23, 2020 at 1:01
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    $\begingroup$ Manchu Scout, I believe the answer is about 5 minutes from launch. Note, the Russian ICBMs used liquid fuel, resulting that they required about a half hour before launch. USA ICBMs used solid propellant, they could have been launched within minutes. This 5 minute is from launch. $\endgroup$
    – peterh
    Commented May 23, 2020 at 2:45
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    $\begingroup$ Where the "demonic", Godless Soviets really 666 miles away? If so, what a coincidence for the "number of the beast" $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Commented May 23, 2020 at 11:40


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