Monday, June 29, 2009

US Air Force: Vandenberg Officials Launch Minuteman III Missile

In this graphic, a Minuteman III missile reentry vehicle is coming through the atmosphere. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Tech. Sgt. Mark A. Schurman.)

News in Balance:

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., June 29, 2009 -- Vandenberg Air Force Base officials launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile configured with a National Nuclear Security Administration test assembly from North Vandenberg at 3:01 a.m. PDT June 29.

The launch was an operational test to verify the weapon system's reliability and accuracy.

The missile carried three unarmed re-entry vehicles approximately 4,190 miles at speeds in excess of 24,000 mph to their predetermined targets near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Col. David Buck, the 30th Space Wing commander, was the mission's launch decision authority. Lt. Col. Lesa K. Toler, the 576th Flight Test Squadron commander, was the mission director for this test launch.

Throughout the preparation and execution of the mission, maintenance and operations task force personnel from the 91st Missile Wing out of Minot AFB, N.D., integrated with the 576th FLTS to perform operational tasks. Members of the 576th FLTS installed tracking, telemetry and command destruct systems on the missile to collect data and meet 30th Space Wing safety requirements.

"It's really something when you see a truly outstanding team come together," Colonel Buck said. "These are dangerous times we're living in right now. It's extremely important our combatant commander has the capabilities he needs to perform the mission of fighting and winning our nation's wars. Testing an operational asset pulled from the missile field at Minot provides us confidence our weapon system is capable of performing when needed."

The data collected will be used by the entire ICBM community, including the U.S. Strategic Command planners and Department of Energy laboratories.

(Report by 1st Lt. Raymond Geoffroy, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs.)

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