This is of interest if you are in southern California or, if people are lucky, in Arizona.
For the first time in years, the countdown for a Minuteman 3 missile test will include blasting open the 106-ton silo door at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The year’s first liftoff from the Central Coast also marks a return of closed-door missile tests. It’s planned for 12:01 a.m. Wednesday from Launch Facility 10 on north Vandenberg. The launch window remains open until 6:01 a.m. to accommodate any delays from unfavorable weather or technical problems.
Opening the doors isn’t a small matter. There are four explosives that are fired to generate gas that flings the multi tone octagonal door open so the missile can be launched in seconds. Normally the tests launches are done when the door has been winched open slowly but in this case it’s the whole show. It should be quite a site if you can be close enough to see the base when it launches.
The test is of an unarmed re-entry vehicle to see how well the missile works using GPS based satellite navigation instead of radio transponders.