Scroll down for video of the launch.
Under a bright moon, an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile soared into the night sky after it was launched early Sunday from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The missile was headed for the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands — 4,200 miles away.
The test of the missile's unarmed re-entry system is one of several operational launch tests scheduled this month at the base.
The launch team, under the direction of VAFB's 576th Flight Test Squadron, includes airmen from the 91st Missile Wing from Minot (N.D.) Air Force Base and the 90th Missile Wing from F.E. Warren Air Force Base near Cheyenne, Wyo.
The Minuteman III is a land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), designed to deliver nuclear warheads. Currently it is the only land-based ICBM in service in the United States. Each missile carries three nuclear warheads, which have a yield in the range of 300 to 500 kilotons.
There are currently 450 Minuteman III missiles in silos located in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming.