Pixel Tracker

Sunday, February 17 , 2019, 2:55 pm | Light Rain 55º


Second Minuteman III Missile Test Launch Planned at Vandenberg AFB

For the second time in seven days, a test launch of an unarmed Minuteman III missile is planned from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The three-stage intercontinental ballistic missile with a mock warhead is set to blast out of an underground silo on North Base between 12:01 a.m. and 6:01 a.m. Wednesday, with the crew aiming for liftoff at the opening of the window.

However, unfavorable weather or technical troubles could delay the missile test until later in the planned launch window.

This week’s launch follows another test that occurred last week from the base. 

Air Force Global Strike Command representatives said scheduling issues — not world tensions — put the pair Minuteman tests close together.

While this week’s launch has been planned for years, last week’s had been delayed from the fall due to Vandenberg's Canyon Fire and technical troubles.

The military will track the mock re-entry vehicle as it travels some 4,200 miles to a predetermined target in the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. 

"We have been working closely with the 576th Flight Test Squadron over the past 10 months to prepare for this mission. Team Vandenberg is poised and ready to execute this important launch," said Col. Chris Moss, 30th Space Wing commander and the launch decision authority.

The ICBM test launch program validates and verifies the effectiveness, readiness and accuracy of the weapon system, according to Global Strike Command.

Vandenberg’s 576th Flight Test Squadron members installed test-unique tracking, telemetry and command destruct systems on the missile, to collect data and ensure safety requirements are met.

The United States has approximately 450 Minuteman III missiles on alert near Malmstrom AFB, Montana; Minot AFB, North Dakota and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming.

Test launches spark harsh comments from critics, who contend the U.S. operates with a double standard while justifying the tests but dubbing North Korea’s as destabilizing. 

The pair of tests comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea.

“We would argue that, even if the Minuteman tests had been planned months in advance, there must be some flexibility in order not to exacerbate international crises,  said Rick Wayman, director of programs at the Santa Barbara-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Wednesday’s test also coincides with the second day of the Non-Proliferation Treaty conference in Vienna, Wayman added.

“The treaty requires parties to negotiate in good faith for an end to the nuclear arms race,” Wayman added. “Conducting a test-launch of a missile whose sole purpose is to deliver nuclear warheads anywhere around the world is a glaring example of bad faith. It violates the spirit of the NPT and undermines U.S. credibility in insisting that other nations not develop nuclear weapons and ballistic 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.

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >