CA, Minuteman fails downrange : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Lompac, CA Minuteman fails downrange

By Rick Tuttle - Of The Record Staff

5/25/00 An Air Force investigation has been launched into Wednesday's failed flight test of an unarmed Minuteman III missile, which successfully lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base but failed to hit its target 4,200 miles away.

The flight was part of the Propulsion Replacement Program designed to extend the life of the Minuteman booster for 20 more years.

Thirty minutes after the launch, the three-stage, 60-foot high intercontinental ballistic missile - armed with three dummy warheads -was supposed to hit a predetermined target in the Kwajalein Missile Range, located in the western chain of the Marshall Islands.

The 576th Flight Test Squadron at Vandenberg has formed a group to analyze telemetry and tracking data to determine the cause of the problem.

Meanwhile, the Atlas III rocket - which over the last 10 days has faced technical problems of its own - finally lifted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station last night.

Twenty-nine minutes after the launch, it successfully put it's payload, EUTELSAT's W4, into geosynchronous transfer orbit.

The W4 is a communications satellite that will provide KU-band capacity for consumer digital pay television and broadband Internet access in Russia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The rocket, built by Lockheed Martin, was scheduled to liftoff on May 15 , but was delayed five times by issues involving weather, radar tracking and other technical snafus, and a fishing tournament that had wondered into the waters off Cape Canaveral and into the flight path of the rocket.

The Atlas III is powered by a Russian-built and-designed RD-180 engine, representing the very first time a Russian engine has been used in an American rocket.

EUTELSAT, a Paris-based international satellite provider, was the first commercial customer to sign with Atlas commercial space program in the early 1980s and flew aboard the first Atlas II rocket.

-- Doris (, May 29, 2000

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