VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The sight of tail smoke lasted in the air long after the actual object launched over the Ronald Reagan viewing site here Jan. 26.
The Missile Defense Agency successfully launched their three-stage boosted, Ground-Based Interceptor in order to collect data and assist the MDA to characterize the flight environment of the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle.
"We use a realistic environment to go out and test and validate the improvements we've made to the Interceptor, and that the improvements are actually the right ones and the ones we need," Debra Christman, spokesperson for the Missile Defense Agency.
While, there was no target for the EKV to engage during this launch, a great deal of data is still collected.
To collect the data from the launch MDA uses a variety of sensors to track the EKV's flight through the sky.
"It will be probably several weeks before we collect all of the data, there are several ground and air sensors gathering data from this test," said Christman.
Ground-Based Midcourse Defense is the element of the Integrated Ballistic Missile Defense System that provides combatant commanders the capability to engage and destroy limited intermediate and Intercontinental ballistic missile threats in the exoatmospheric battle space to protect the United States.
The EKV is the component that uses the Kinetic Energy from a direct hit to destroy the incoming target. It is a sensor-propulsion package that collides with the re-entry vehicle. Hit-to-kill technology has been proven in a number of MDA flight tests.
The 100th Missile Defense Brigade worked closely with the MDA and the 30th Space Wing to complete this successful mission.
Once all the data is collected, another launch will be performed in late spring or early summer.