The Polaris missile was a two-stage solid-fueled nuclear-armed submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) built during the Cold War by Lockheed Corporation for the United States Navy or referred to as an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM).

Polaris Missile

In layman’s terms, it was a missile designed to be launched from a submerged submarine. My father was involved with this program working with the guidance systems, specifically working with Joe Sabo, who showed him the ropes on how to debug the Polaris guidance computer. Basically, it was a computer guided missile that would launch with a determined target and would have a vX, vY & vZ, basically left/right guidance, required thrust and for lack of a better explanation, height.  The computer would adjust during flight based on initial target calculations.

One of my fathers biggest thrills was being in Cape Canaveral when they tested the Polaris, and out of nowhere a missile came out of the water….  he couldn’t believe that the math on paper actually worked.

Later, he would travel on a top secret (well classified) mission accompanying the Polaris missile on a submarine across the Atlantic. Leaving from Connecticut and arriving in Scotland 2 months later all the while submerged. His job was to babysit the Polaris guidance system, oh… did I mention they had nukes attached?  In fact, he slept in the missile compartment 15 feet from one of the warheads.  I guess that’s one way to keep warm.  He was lucky, he had a pull down bunk all to himself, not one of the stacked variety subs are know for.  The down side, was there was a metal beam overhead they used to move heavy objects so if they need to move something in the night, he had to get up, fold up his bunk and wait till they were through.

This is where the Lickly lore kicks in.  You see, he basically entered Scotland in Cold War times through military channels.  Then after 2 months on a sub,

Letter from the sub commander courtesy of my Aunt Mary

was let loose to travel Europe.  When he went to catch a flight to England, the immigration people got confused as his passport was never stamped for entry. The details here get fuzzy but it sounds like he finally wore them down as he couldn’t admit to being on a confidential mission.  He met up with Steve Copps (Ed Copps brother), Alex Cosmala and did what most 20 somethings do in Europe.


The majority of the Polaris team ended up moving over to the Apollo program working on the guidance systems.


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