Launched toward the Pacific Ocean at around 3:30 a.m., the purpose of the test launch was to “validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system,” according to the Air Force.
“The data gained from these launches allows us to maintain a high readiness capability and ensures operation effectiveness of the most powerful weapons in the nation’s arsenal,” said Col. Keith Balts, commander for the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg, who’s also responsible for deciding whether or not a missile gets launched.
The missile was launched by a team that includes members of the 90th Missile Wing based out of F.E. Warren AFB in Wyoming and was launched under the direction of the 576th Flight Test Squadron stationed at Vandenberg.
This is the third intercontinental ballistic missile test launched from Vandenberg this year. The previous two were launched on March 23 and 27.
Because they were not armed, all three missiles contained re-entry vehicles so that they can be recovered. Each missile has a range of roughly 6,000 miles and can be outfitted with three thermonuclear warheads each ranging in the megatons, according to the National Museum of the Air Force.