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Failed missile intercept test posed no safety risk, MDA says

July 6th, 2013 | by Crystal Chatham | Comments
A Ground-Based Mid Course Defense intercept test is conducted at Vandenberg Air Force Base on January 26, 2013. (MDA photo)

A Ground-Based Mid Course Defense intercept test is conducted at Vandenberg Air Force Base on January 26, 2013. (MDA photo)

An interceptor missile launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base along California’s coastline Friday missed its target during a test flight, the Department of Defense announced.

The missile, which is part of the overall Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, was intended to hit and destroy a long-range ballistic missile target that was launched from the U.S. Army’s Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands.

The intercept and target vehicle should have met somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.

Although the test intercept missed, Richard Lehner, spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency in Washington, D.C., told The Desert Sun Saturday that no danger was ever presented.

“Safety is the number one priority for all missile defense testing, and there has never been an instance of any injuries or damage caused by a missile defense test,” he said.

Lehner said the spent rocket motor cases fell into the Pacific Ocean Friday, as with all multi-stage launch vehicles they test there. All fuel had been consumed on both vehicles and the rest of each vehicle’s components burned up on re-entry into the atmosphere, he said.

“The interceptor kill vehicle and the mock target warhead are mostly if not entirely burned up upon re-entering the atmosphere,” Lehner said. “Neither the interceptor or target warhead carry explosives of any kind.”

Vandenberg Air Force Base, home to the 30th Space Wing, is located on the coast, north of Santa Barbara near the town of Lompoc. It is 265 miles — about a 4 hour and 20 minute drive — from Palm Springs.

The intercept test was conducted by the 30th Space Wing, Missile Defense Agency, Joint Functional Component Command, Integrated Missile Defense (JFCC IMD) and U.S. Northern Command.

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