Vandenberg Rocket Exploded Seconds After Launch on Wednesday

Explosion Resulted in No Injuries, Cause Under Investigation

Vandenberg Space Force Base | Credit: Caitlin Kelley

A Minotaur II+ rocket exploded approximately 11 seconds after launching at 11 p.m. Wednesday, July 6, from the North Vandenberg Space Force Base. 

There were no injuries in the explosion, and the debris was contained to the immediate vicinity of the launch pad. The Vandenberg Fire Department was on scene responding to a fire caused by the launch explosion at 1 a.m. Thursday July 7, but the base has not yet confirmed if the fire is still burning.

“We always have emergency response teams on standby prior to every launch,” said Colonel Kris Barcomb, Space Launch Delta 30 vice commander and launch decision authority for the Wednesday-night launch. “Safety is our priority at all times.” 

The rocket will be used on the future LGM-35A Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile, and both are being developed by the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center. The test launch was meant to demonstrate preliminary design concepts and relevant payload technologies in operationally realistic environments, according to Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center officials.

An investigative review board has been established to determine the cause of the explosion. An update will be sent once more information is provided.

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