1961 ... Atlas ready!

... early US ICBM 'Atlas'. After being filled with tons of temperamental, highly dangerous liquid fuels, the rocket is elevated out of it's reinforced underground 'silo'. Getting an Atlas ready to fire was a process that took hours. Not exactly the 'quick response' nuclear planners were looking for. The pointy thing at the top is the thermonuclear warhead. Take that off and pop-on a Mercury Capsule and presto-chango... you've got NASA's first manned orbital 'launch vehicle'.