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Keep an eye on the sky — Vandenberg will test launch an unarmed missile

Watch the Minuteman III missile blast off from Vandenberg

Vandenberg Air Force Base launched an unarmed Minuteman III missile off the California coast on Wednesday, August 2, 2017. It was launched to a test range near the Marshall Islands, about 4,200 miles away.
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Vandenberg Air Force Base launched an unarmed Minuteman III missile off the California coast on Wednesday, August 2, 2017. It was launched to a test range near the Marshall Islands, about 4,200 miles away.

Update, 9:50 a.m.

The launch has been postponed for a later date, according to a spokeswoman for the Air Force Global Strike Command. Details were not immediately available regarding the delay, or when the launch will be rescheduled.

Original story:

An unarmed Minuteman III missile test launch is planned for late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The three-stage weapon with a mock re-entry vehicle is expected to pop out of an underground silo on North Base between 11:25 p.m. Tuesday and 5:25 a.m. Wednesday.

“An operational test like this is vital to the readiness of our combat-ready missile force,” said Col. Michael S. Hough, 30th Space Wing commander and the launch decision authority.

“Team V is proud to work with Air Force Global Strike Command and the Airmen of the 576th Flight Test Squadron in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of this awesome weapon system, the Minuteman III missile,” Hough said.

The Air Force regularly conducts tests of Minuteman missiles to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness and accuracy of the weapon system, according to Global Strike Command.

The Louisiana-based organization oversees the Air Force’s land- and air-based nuclear weapon units.

The 576th Flight Test Squadron, a Global Strike Command unit based at Vandenberg, is responsible for installing test-unique tracking, telemetry and command destruct systems on the missile, which collect data and ensure safety requirements are met.

The Air Force has some 400 Minuteman III missiles positioned near Malmstrom AFB, Montana; Minot AFB, North Dakota; and F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming.

Meanwhile, the launch of a Spanish radar satellite called Paz reportedly now is targeting a Feb. 17 blastoff from Vandenberg aboard a Space Exploration Technologies Falcon 9 rocket to be launched from South Base, according to spacecraft manufacturer Airbus Space.

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