New Mexico nuclear museum receives rare Soviet missile

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M – The National Nuclear Science and History in New Mexico showcases a lot of history about nuclear science from around the world.

On Saturday, they received a new rare addition to their missile collection.

“That’s what museums do, we try to show history through the physical objects of the time that we’re talking about,” said James Stemm, curator of the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History. 

“We have a Soviet built SA-2 surface-to-air missile from the first built in the 1950s and used up through the 1980s by the Russians,” said Stemm. 

This missile – which is a rare addition for the museum – made its trek from another museum down the road in Rio Rancho.  

“This missile actually belongs to the New Mexico Museum of Military History, and they were looking for a place to display it so more people could see it. And a few weeks ago they called us and offered to let us borrow it for a few yours,” said Stemm.  

And the missile rings in at a hefty size too.    

“The missile was about 35 feet long, I’m on the launcher that they’re moving it on, it’s about 40 feet in total,” Stemm said. 

This missile named “Tina” was used by Russians in defense against the United States years ago.

“It was built to defend the Soviet Union against American B-52, and B-47 bombers, two of which we actually have on display here. So those were the main threat that they saw,” said Stemm. 

But why would a Soviet missile be so important to a museum here in New Mexico?

“This is the Russian versions of things that we have that are American, so it shows some of the different ways that different people approach the same problems,” Stemm said. 

Stemm has been a curator for over 25 years, and he explained that museums are used to show all sides of history. Plus, this missile’s a rarity in not only New Mexico, but across the country too.

“As far as I know the only one in New Mexico, there are a few in other museums back east the Smithsonian has one, the Air Force Museum has one, but they aren’t very common in the U.S.,” said Stemm.