US Air Force tests Minuteman III missile

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

A Minuteman III missile in a museum

At 08:01 GMT (01:01 local time) this morning, the United States Air Force launched a Minuteman III missile on a test mission from Launch Facility 09 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Due to a large number of delays, this is the first time that a Minuteman missile has conducted an operational test in over a year.

The missile flew 6,759 kilometres (4,200 miles) downrange on a sub-orbital trajectory, to the Kwajalein Atoll test site in the Marshall Islands. The apogee reached has not yet been released, however typical Minuteman launches reach between 1,000 and 1,300km. The mission, which was designated GT-196GM, or "Glory Trip 196GM", was conducted to test the missile's operational capabilities. The missile flew with a single MK.21 re-entry vehicle, which would be used to carry a nuclear warhead if the missile were launched in hostile circumstances.

The next operational test of a Minuteman III is scheduled for early August.