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Local News

Minuteman Missile Test Planned Sunday at Vandenberg AFB

The first Minuteman 3 missile test of 2015 is scheduled for early Sunday morning from north Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile launch is planned at 3:51 a.m., with the launch window remaining open until 9:51 a.m.

Missile tests can be delayed by unfavorable weather or technical troubles either at Vandenberg or downrange.

Military crews will track the weapon as it travels away from Vandenberg to a predetermined target, typically in the central Pacific Ocean.

Minuteman tests occur from underground silos on the northern edge of Vandenberg, and typically are hard to see from off-base locations until the weapon rises above the ridge line. 

The purpose of the ICBM test launch program, overseen by Air Force Global Strike Command, is to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness and accuracy of the weapon system.

Col. Keith Balts, 30th Space Wing commander, is the launch decision authority, and will give the final permission for the mission.

"This mission continues a long string of valuable ICBM flight tests from Vandenberg Air Force Base," said Balts. "It clearly demonstrates the capability of both the Minuteman 3 weapon system and those who maintain and operate it, to include the hundreds of professionals across the DoD who are critical to each test launch." 

The launch team, under the direction of Vandenberg’s 576th Flight Test Squadron, includes crew members and maintainance personnel from the 90th Missile Wing, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming.

Members of the 576th are  responsible for installing test-unique equipment such as tracking, telemetry and command destruct systems on the missile to collect data and ensure the weapon remains safely on its flight path.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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