Vandenberg launches Minuteman III
An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launched from North Vandenberg today at 1 a.m. as part of a developmental test demonstrating the ability to integrate a safety enhanced re-entry vehicle into the existing Minuteman III weapons system


By Maj. Todd Fleming, 30th Space Wing Public Affairs
Posted Friday, August 26, 2005

  
Vandenberg launches Minuteman III
VANDENBERG AFB, Calif. – This unarmed Minuteman III SERV#2 launched from Vandenberg's Launch Facility-26 at 1 a.m. this morning. The launch demonstrates the ability to integrate a safety enhanced re-entry vehicle into the existing Minuteman III weapons system. There are two more Minuteman III launches scheduled this year; one Sept. 7 and another Sept. 14. (Photo by Stephen DeLoriea)


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VANDENBERG AFB, Calif. – An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launched from North Vandenberg today at 1 a.m. as part of a developmental test demonstrating the ability to integrate a safety enhanced re-entry vehicle into the existing Minuteman III weapons system.

The missile launched under the guidance of the 576th Flight Test Squadron and Capt. Justine Adams, 576th FLTS launch director.

“Each missile launch is the culmination of a tremendous amount of work, preparing and executing a safe and reliable test flight,” said Lt. Col. S.L. Davis, 576th FLTS commander and mission director. “The data we receive from these tests is vital in ensuring a safe, secure and reliable ICBM force.”

Personnel from the 576th FLTS performed maintenance activities to include missile emplacement and installation of unique missile tracking, telemetry and command destruct systems to collect test data and meet safety requirements.

In addition, missile crew members deployed from the 564th Missile Squadron at Malmstrom AFB, Mont., and augmented the 576th FLTS Top Hand program in conducting missile crew duties – including issuing the final launch command.

“They pull alerts and train to launch missiles up north [at Malmstrom] hoping they will never have to,” said Capt. Scott Head, 576th FLTS ICBM test operations officer. “The opportunity to come to Vandenberg and ‘turn keys’ is a privilege and honor that only a handful of missileers get to experience.”

The missile’s single unarmed re-entry vehicle traveled approximately 4,200 miles in about 30 minutes, hitting a pre-determined target at the Ronald Reagan Test Site near the Kwajalein Atoll in the western chain of the Marshall Islands.

“It was a great experience and a lot of work,” said 1st Lt. Aaron Basham, 564th MS missile combat crew commander.

This exercise continues a long tradition of ICBM test launches from Vandenberg AFB. There are two more Minuteman III launches scheduled this year; one Sept. 7 and another Sept. 14.

“We are here at Vandenberg to perform launch operations. That is our primary mission, and it is critical to our national defense. Nobody does it better,” said Col. Jack Weinstein, 30th Space Wing commander and spacelift commander for today’s launch. “Each launch is a tribute to the outstanding effort of all our men and women.”


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