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Local News

Month’s Second Minuteman III Test Planned From Vandenberg AFB

A second test launch of a Minuteman III weapon within five days is planned this week at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The three-stage weapon is expected to blast out of its underground silo on North Base between 11 p.m. Thursday and 5 a.m. Friday, base officials said.

The purpose of the ICBM test launch program is to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness and accuracy of the weapon system, according to officials with Louisiana-based Air Force Global Strike Command, which oversees the land- and air-based nuclear fleet.

"The launch process requires tremendous teamwork and involves months of preparation," said Col. J. Christopher Moss, 30th Space Wing commander and the launch decision authority.

"The data gained from these launches allows us to maintain a high readiness capability and ensures operational effectiveness of the most powerful weapons in the nation's arsenal,” Moss added.

The launch team, under the direction of the 576th Flight Test Squadron at Vandenberg, includes crew members and maintainers from the 91st Missile Wing, Minot AFB, North Dakota.

Members of the 576th squadron installed test-unique tracking, telemetry and command destruct systems on the missile, which collect data and ensure safety requirements are met.

Another Minuteman III test successfully occurred late Saturday night from Vandenberg.

Earlier this year in a speech to members of the Santa Maria and Lompoc Chambers of Commerce, Moss said the base expected a busy but compressed year of launches due to work involving equipment used to monitor just-launched rockets and missiles.

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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