Vandenberg Air Force Base
Missile successfully launches from Vandenberg
Missile mission success thanks to teamwork
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VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile configured with a National Nuclear Security Administration test assembly launched from North Vandenberg April 1 at 1:01 a.m. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Angelique Perez)
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30th Space Wing Public Affairs

4/2/2008 - VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- A Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile configured with a National Nuclear Security Administration, or NNSA, test assembly launched from North Vandenberg today at 1:01 a.m. 

The launch tested the weapon system's reliability and accuracy. 

What makes this launch different is that it is also the certification flight for the new Developmental Joint Test Assembly on board the MK-21 re-entry vehicle. 

"In order to comply with 30th Space Wing safety requirements, a component of the flight termination system on the missile had to be redesigned and certified," said Lt. Col. Lesa Toler, the 576th Flight Test Squadron commander, and the mission director for this operational test launch. "Safety is our number one concern when conducting test launches." 

The missile's single unarmed re-entry vehicle traveled approximately 4,200 miles to its pre-determined target at the Reagan Test Site located in the Marshall Islands. 

The data collected will be used by the entire ICBM community, including the United States Strategic Command planners and the Program Office at Hill AFB, Utah, and the NNSA/Department of Energy laboratories: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories and Sandia National Laboratories. 

"Minuteman III flight testing is critical because it's the only way to obtain data on weapon system reliability, accuracy, and performance from first stage ignition to RV impact," Colonel Toler said. 

The 576th FLTS worked tirelessly to prepare the launch facility and launch control center, as well as the test missile to ensure a successful launch, she said. 

"A huge thank you to everyone involved in the preparation and execution of this mission," said Colonel Toler. "We met our test objectives but ultimately proved our nation's nuclear ICBM force is reliable and will continue to play a vital role in deterrence and security of the United States." 

"An outstanding display of teamwork ensured 100-percent mission success," said Col. Michael Fortney, 30th SW vice commander, and the spacelift commander for the test launch. "We constantly focus on flawless execution of our launch, range and expeditionary missions. I am extremely proud of the collaboration between the 30th SW and the 576th FLTS."

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