Vandenberg Air Force Base officials confirmed an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile launched from the base early Thursday morning.
While the launch was not widely visible due to cloud cover, people in the Lompoc area were able to hear the low rumble from the launch and some watching from on base reported being able to see it after takeoff before disappearing into the clouds less than a minute later.
Base officials say the missile was launched at 12:40 a.m., just one minute after the launch window opened.
Air Force Global Strike Command says the launch is a test to determine the weapon system’s effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy.
In a press release, Col. Kris Barcomb, 30th Operations Group commander and launch decision authority, said, “The Western Range plays an integral role in national security, and our ICBM test launch program helps maintain the credibility of our nuclear deterrent. Launching two Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles one week apart is a true testament to the capabilities of Team Vandenberg.”
These test launches usually happen about once a quarter, but this was the third Minuteman III launch this year and the second this month.
The first launch of the year was in February. The second was just last week.