ICBM test rocket explodes seconds after launch

File - The United Space Force logo on a flag.
File – The United Space Force logo on a flag.

A test missile launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California exploded seconds after being fired late Wednesday night, according to officials. 

The Minotaur II space launch vehicle exploded approximately 11 seconds after launching off the test pad at 11:01 p.m. local time, Vandenberg officials confirmed in a statement early Thursday.  

The explosion sparked a fire on base, though the debris stayed within the “immediate vicinity” of the launch pad and there were no injuries.  

In a second release, base officials confirmed that the Vandenberg Fire Department responded to the fire after the launch as it produced smoke “but not immediate danger to the rest of base.”

“We always have emergency response teams on standby prior to every launch,” Col. Kris Barcomb, vice commander of Space Launch Delta 30, said in a statement. “Safety is our priority at all times.” 

An investigation to determine the cause of the explosion is underway.

Vandenberg Space Force Base was testing the Air Force’s new Mk21A reentry vehicle, launched on the Minotaur II at the time of the explosion.

The vehicle is expected to be used with the developing LGM-35A Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile, also known as the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), the Air Force said in a statement to The Hill. 

The GBSD is set to replace the U.S. military’s aging Minuteman missiles. 

Updated 4:55 p.m.

Tags Air Force California Space Force
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