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

Vandenberg Launches Minuteman III

Vandenberg AFB News Release

2011 June 22

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - A scheduled unarmed operational test Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launch occurred at 6:35 a.m. June 22 from Launch Facility-10 here.

Inclement downrange weather and an interruption in communication with the Airborne Launch Control System led to unprogrammed holds in the countdown. Furthermore, boats detected at different times in the hazard area resulted in additional unprogrammed holds. Still, those issues were overcome allowing for a safe launch within the established window.

"We train constantly working through scenarios such as those we faced real-time this morning," said Col. Keith Balts, 30th Space Wing vice commander and launch decision authority. "Without a doubt, Team Vandenberg performed brilliantly in ensuring safe range operations and a successful launch."

The missile's single reentry test vehicle traveled approximately 4,200 miles to a pre-determined target near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. ICBM analysts, including the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, will use the data collected to ensure the readiness and capability of the ICBM fleet.

"The launch process requires tremendous teamwork and involves months of preparation," said Col. David Bliesner, 576th Flight Test Squadron commander. "The data gained from these launches allows us to maintain a high readiness capability and ensures operational effectiveness of the most powerful weapons in the nation's arsenal."

The launch was a combined effort of the 576th FLTS here; 91st Missile Wing, Minot AFB, N.D.; 625th Strategic Operations Squadron, Offutt AFB, Neb.; and the 30th Space Wing here.

This story was originally titled "Team Vandenberg Conducts Minuteman III Flight Test".

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