These photos were taken 116 miles from Vandenberg AFB at Lake
Below are links to previous Minuteman launches
Minuteman II launch on 09-19-2002
Minuteman II launch Intercept test on 03-15-2002
Minuteman II launch Intercept test on 07-14-2001
Minuteman II launch on 07-07-2002
Minuteman II launch on 06-23-1997
The MSLS is a refurbished, three-stage
Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile
(ICBM) with a new front section. Lockheed Martin Astronautics designed and built
the new front section and associated flight hardware for the MSLS and provides
launch services under contract to the U.S. Air Force Test and Evaluation
Directorate, Space & Missile Systems Center, Kirtland Air Force Base, New
Mexico. All five MSLS flights have been successful. Lockheed Martin Missiles &
Space is the prime contractor for the PLV which also is a refurbished, two-stage
Minuteman II ICBM with a new front section. Today's MSLS mission successfully
deployed two inert targets while the PLV delivered and deployed the
exoatmospheric kill vehicle.
"This fifth consecutive successful flight
of the MSLS has demonstrated the reliability
of this vehicle as well as Lockheed Martin's continuing commitment to mission
success," said G. Thomas Marsh, Lockheed Martin Astronautics president. "Today's
test provides the BMDO important information to be used in strengthening the
defense of the United States. We are pleased to be a member of the team that
worked together to make the mission a success."
The MSLS is designed to launch a variety,
or "multi-service" classes of missions,
including ballistic experiments, like the one launched today, carrying payloads
weighing up to 1,450 pounds as far as 4,200 miles downrange. This was the fifth
MSLS launch. The first four were launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.,
on Sept. 27, 1996, January 16, 1997, June 23, 1997, and Jan. 15, 1998.
Astronautics and Missiles & Space
are two of the operating units of Lockheed
Martin Space Systems headquartered in Bethesda, Md. Both companies design,
develop, test and manufacture a variety of advanced technology systems for space
and defense. Astronautics' chief products include interplanetary spacecraft and other
space systems, space launch systems and ground systems. The chief products of
Missiles & Space include fleet ballistic missiles, missile defense systems and
spacecraft for commercial and government customers.
The Minuteman weapon system was conceived in the late 1950s and deployed
in the early 1960s. Minuteman was a
revolutionary concept and an extraordinary technical achievement. Both the missile and basing components incorporated
significant advances beyond the relatively slow-reacting, liquid-fueled, remotely-controlled intercontinental ballistic missiles of
the previous generation. From the beginning, Minuteman missiles have provided a quick-reacting, inertially guided, highly
survivable component to Americaís nuclear Triad. Minutemanís maintenance concept capitalizes on high reliability and a
"remove and replace" approach to achieve a near one-hundred percent alert rate.
Through state-of-the-art improvements, the Minuteman system has evolved to meet new challenges and assume new missions.
Modernization programs have resulted in new versions of the missile, expanded targeting options, significantly improved
accuracy, and survivability. Todayís Minuteman weapon system is the product of almost 35 years of continuous enhancement.
The current Minuteman force consists of 515 Minuteman IIIís located at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., Malmstrom AFB, Mont.,
Minot AFB, N.D., and Grand Forks AFB, N.D. The last round of base realignment and closing decisions has forced a
realignment of Minuteman missiles from Grand Forks, AFB toMalmstrom, AFB by September, 1998. Ratification of Start I
and the possible implementation of Start II, means that Minuteman III will become the only land-based ICBM in the TRIAD.
An extensive life extension program is underway to keep the remaining missiles safe, secure and reliable well into the 21st
Century. These major programs include: replacement of the aging guidance system, remanufacture of the solid-propellant
rocket motors, replacement of standby power systems, repair of launch facilities, and installation of updated, survivable
communications equipment and new command and control consoles to enhance immediate communications.
Primary function: Intercontinental ballistic missile
Contractor: Boeing Co.
Power plant: Three solid-propellant rocket motors; first stage, Thiokol; second stage, Aerojet-General; third stage, United
Technologies Chemical Systems Division
Thrust: First stage, 202,600 pounds (91,170 kilograms)
Length: 59.9 feet (18 meters)
Weight: 79,432 pounds (32,158 kilograms)
Diameter: 5.5 feet (1.67 meters)
Range: 6,000-plus miles (5,218 nautical miles)
Speed: Approximately 15,000 mph (Mach 23 or 24,000 kph) at burnout
Ceiling: 700 miles (1,120 kilometers)
Load: Re-entry vehicle: General Electric MK 12 or MK 12A
Guidance system: Inertial system: Autonetics Division of Rockwell International (now Boeing North American); ground
electronic/security system: Sylvania Electronics Systems and Boeing Co.
Warheads: Three (downloaded to one in accordance with the Washington Summit Agreement, June 1992)
Unit cost: $7 million
Date deployed: June 1970, production cessation: December 1978
Inventory: Active force, 515; Reserve, 0; ANG, 0