For a “safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent,” an intercontinental ballistic missile launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Wednesday at 12:33 a.m., according to Air Force Global Strike Command, based in Louisiana. The unarmed Minuteman III test was the first since Vandenberg officially became Space Operations Command (SpOC) on December 20, 2019, to support the mission of the new U.S. Space Force. It was previously known as 14th Air Force.

The Minuteman traveled 4,200 miles to the Marshall Islands in a “developmental test” to assess the flight worthiness of new or replacement components. Air Force spokesperson Capt. Earon Brown said the components would go unidentified, but the flight was a success as all systems worked properly, the missile stayed on course, and the splashdown was in the right spot.

Two other development tests — as opposed to the “Glory Trips” that check randomly selected ICBMs for fleet-wide reliability — are scheduled over the next few years. The missile was assembled at Vandenberg with components pulled from Air Force bases in Montana, Wyoming, and North Dakota.

The U.S. Space Force was established in the recent Defense Authorization Act as the sixth branch of the country’s military. Whether Vandenberg would change its name or affiliation has not yet been determined, but the base’s Staff Sgt. Brittany Murphy confirmed that the Space Operations Command acronym was indeed pronounced “Spock.”


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