Vandenberg Air Force Base is set to conduct a defense weapon test Saturday afternoon during a launch of a Ground-Based Interceptor missile.
The test, a joint effort of the 30th Space Wing and the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, involves launching a three-stage Ground-Based Interceptor missile between the hours of 2 and 6 p.m. from North Base, according to a news release from the MDA.
Saturday’s planned test will not involve an intercept, and no target missile will be launched, according to the MDA.
Results of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense test will be used to improve an element of the Ballistic Missile Defense System, which defends the country and allies by intercepting incoming warheads and missile attacks in space, according to MDA spokeswoman Debra Christman.
She said the MDA executes a rigorous test program that includes testing against short-, medium-, intermediate-, and long-range threats.
“Before new capabilities are deployed, they must undergo testing that enables assessment under realistic operational conditions,” Christman said. “This diagnostic flight test will characterize the space flight environment of the interceptor missile’s exoatmospheric kill vehicle. The exoatmospheric kill vehicle is the component that, if a target missile were present, would collide directly with the threat warhead to perform a ‘hit to kill’ intercept.”
The MDA Ballistic Missile Defense System programs have conducted 56 successful hit-to-kill ballistic missile intercepts in 71 attempts, she said.
“Vandenberg Hawks are working with MDA to provide safe launch operations for the test,” said Col. Nina Armagno, 30th Space Wing commander and launch decision authority. “It’s a pleasure to work with our MDA mission partners.”
Launch weather officer Benjamin Wauer said Friday that the rain and clouds Central Coast residents have seen the past couple days should clear out for the launch.
“By tomorrow midday, we’re looking to have pretty good conditions,” Wauer said. “We’re not expecting to force a scrub.”