An unarmed Minuteman III ICBM experienced an anomaly during an operational flight test Wednesday from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., forcing testers to destroy it for safety reasons over the Pacific Ocean, announced officials with Vandy’s 30th Space Wing. “Established parameters were exceeded, and controllers sent destruct commands,” said Col. Matthew Carroll, 30th SW chief of safety. “We plan for situations like this and everything was executed according to the plan.” Test controllers launched the missile at 3:06 a.m. West Coast time; after detecting the anomaly, they terminated the flight as the missile was over a broad ocean area, northeast of Roi-Namur, a part of the Kwajalein atoll in the Marshall Islands. An Air Force team will investigate the anomaly’s cause. The Air Force routinely conducts these operational test flights from Vandenberg to Kwajalein to ensure the Minuteman’s reliability and accuracy. (Vandenberg release)
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.