[FPSPACE] Ronald Reagan Test Site
zirconic1 at earthlink.net
Wed Dec 15 18:27:43 EST 2004
Interceptor Missile Fails to Launch in Test
Wednesday, December 15, 2004; 4:34 AM
WASHINGTON -- An interceptor missile failed to launch early Wednesday in what was to have been the first full flight test of the U.S. national missile defense system in nearly two years.
The Missile Defense Agency has attempted to conduct the test several times this month, but scrubbed each one for a variety of reasons, including various weather problems and a malfunction on a recovery vessel not directly related to the equipment being tested.
A target missile carrying a mock warhead was successfully launched as scheduled from Kodiak, Alaska, at 12:45 a.m. EST, in the first launch of a target missile from Kodiak in support of a full flight test of the system.
However, the agency said the ground-based interceptor "experienced an anomaly shortly before it was to be launched" from the Ronald Reagan Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll in the central Pacific Ocean 16 minutes after the target missile left Alaska.
An announcement said the interceptor experienced an automatic shutdown "due to an unknown anomaly."
The agency gave no other details and said program officials will review pre-launch data to determine the cause for the shutdown.
The military is in final preparations to activate missile defenses designed to protect against an intercontinental ballistic missile attack from North Korea or elsewhere in eastern Asia.
Wednesday's test was to have been the first in which the interceptor used the same booster rocket that the operational system would use.
In earlier testing of tracking and targeting systems, which critics derided as highly scripted, missile interceptors went five-for-eight in hitting target missiles.
December 15, 2004
Important Test for Missile-Defense System Ends in Failure
New York Times
By DAVID STOUT
WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 - An important test of the United States' emerging missile-defense system ended in an $85 million failure early today as an interceptor rocket failed to launch as scheduled from the Marshall Islands, the Pentagon said.
A target rocket carrying a mock warhead was successfully launched from Kodiak, Alaska. But the interceptor, which was to have gone aloft 16 minutes later and picked off the target 100 miles over the earth, automatically shut down instead because of "an unknown anomaly," the Defense Department's Missile Defense Agency said.
Despite the disappointment, today's event was not a total failure, said Richard A. Lehner, an agency spokesman. He said "quite a bit" had been learned from the aborted test, which he called "a very good training exercise." He noted that the rocket that failed to rise can be used later. The target rocket landed in the ocean some 3,000 miles from Kodiak, he said.
Mr. Lehner said he could not predict when the cause of the shutdown might be determined. No future tests have been scheduled.
The missile agency had attempted a test several times this month, but weather and other factors caused postponements. Today's test was to have been the most advanced so far, Mr. Lehner said. The interceptor was equipped with the same type of booster rocket that the defense system is to use when it is fully operational.
The test was also to have been the first for the multibillion-dollar program since Dec. 12, 2002. That test was also a failure; the interceptor did not separate from its booster rocket, missed its target by hundreds of miles and burned up in the atmosphere.
Before today's test, the Pentagon agency had conducted eight tests with interceptor vehicles, scoring hits in five. Some critics of the Missile Defense Agency, which has spent more than $80 billion since 1985, say the entire program is unrealistic, and that the tests have been scripted.
On the contrary, the agency says. It says the tests are designed to answer specific questions and "to build confidence in the system that we are working to design." Although individual tests are expensive, Mr. Lehner said fewer are necessary than with missiles of years past because of advanced modeling and simulation techniques.
The missile system under development is a scaled-down version of the "Star Wars" defense envisioned by President Ronald Reagan two decades ago against a rain of missiles from the Soviet Union. But the end of the cold war made President Reagan's original vision outdated. The system now contemplated would guard the United States against attack from smaller "rogue nations."
The administration of President Bill Clinton explored a much less advanced system. Then George Bush pledged during the 2000 campaign to push for a scaled-down version of the Reagan plan.
It was not immediately clear how long today's failure might delay deployment of the system. In December 2002, President Bush said he hoped the system would be operational by the end of 2004.
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