Space and astronomy news and information for the American Southwest. Coverage includes Vandenberg AFB rocket and missile launches.

Minuteman III Launch Scheduled

Vandenberg AFB News Release

2008 October 31

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) configured with one joint test assembly is scheduled to launch from North Vandenberg Wednesday morning as an operational test to determine the weapon system's reliability and accuracy. The six-hour launch window is from 12:01 a.m. to 6:01 a.m.

The missile will be launched under the direction of the 576th Flight Test Squadron. Operational tasks were conducted by maintenance and operations task force personnel from the 90th Missile Wing, F.E. Warren AFB, WY. Members of the 576th FLTS installed tracking, telemetry and command destruct systems on the missile to collect data and meet safety requirements. A crew on the Airborne Launch Control System from the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron, Offutt AFB, NE, will send preparatory and execute launch commands to the missile during the countdown.

Col. David J. Buck, 30th Space Wing commander, is the spacelift commander for this mission. Lt. Col. Lesa K. Toler, 576th FLTS commander, is the mission director.

"This is an exciting time right now in the nuclear business with many changes in organizational structure, policy and procedures" said Lt Col Toler. "but, one thing that will remain constant is the extremely high probability of placing a bomb on target," she said.

The missile's one unarmed re-entry vehicle is expected to travel approximately 4,190 miles, hitting a pre-determined target near the Kwajalein Atoll.

The entire ICBM community, including the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, will use the data collected from this mission for continuing force development evaluation.

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