GBH Openvault

War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Missile Experimental; Interview with Larry Gale, 1987

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Larry Gale worked on nuclear particle beam research and development at McDonnell Douglas in the 1980s. In the interview he discusses the defense contracts being worked on by McDonnell Douglas, including the integrated space experiment (ISE). He describes the relationship between the defense contractors and the weapons laboratories, specifically Los Alamos. He lays out the timetable and budget for the defense contracts, and explains the future he sees for the research. He describes the place of nuclear particle beams, alongside laser systems, in the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).

License Clip
Got it
War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Missile Experimental
Program Number



Interview with Larry Gale, 1987

Series Description

The first atomic explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945, changed the world forever. This series chronicles these changes and the history of a new era. It traces the development of nuclear weapons, the evolution of nuclear strategy, and the politics of a world with the power to destroy itself.

In thirteen one-hour programs that combine historic footage and recent interviews with key American, Soviet, and European participants, the nuclear age unfolds: the origin and evolution of nuclear weapons; the people of the past who have shaped the events of the present; the ideas and issues that political leaders, scientists, and the public at large must confront, and the prospects for the future. Nuclear Age highlights the profound changes in contemporary thinking imposed by the advent of nuclear weapons. Series release date: 1/1989

Program Description

Does the United States really plan to use nuclear weapons? Or is their only purpose to deter others from using them? These questions fuel debate over the Mobile Missile known as the MX.

The MX was designed in 1975 to counter the threat of large accurate missiles being bult in the Soviet Union. General Russell Dougherty of the Strategic Air Command recalls, “We had to have some more warheads ... with more accuracy. That was the rational for ... the MX.” It faced ten years of difficult questions in Congress, withing the military and from civilians. Was the missile meant to deter a Soviet attack or to survive one? One question led to another. There was one practical question: where to put the 200,000 pound 100 foot long missiles? In 1983 Congress approved production of 100 MX Peacekeeper missiles and based the first 50 in existing Minuteman silos.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


TRW Defense and Space Systems Group
Neutral beams
United States. Air Force
Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory
Antimissile missiles
Strategic Defense Initiative
United States. Army
McDonnell Douglas Aerospace (Firm)
Defense contracts
Abrahamson, James A.
Soviet Union. Treaties, etc. United States, 1972 May 26 (ABM)
Laser weapons
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Gale, Larry (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Missile Experimental; Interview with Larry Gale, 1987,” 12/08/1987, GBH Archives, accessed June 25, 2024,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Missile Experimental; Interview with Larry Gale, 1987.” 12/08/1987. GBH Archives. Web. June 25, 2024. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Missile Experimental; Interview with Larry Gale, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
If you have more information about this item, we want to know! Please contact us, including the URL.