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Fri, Sep 01, 2006

Success! Interceptor Tracks, Destroys Target In Missile Defense Test

ANN REALTIME UPDATE 09.01.06 1600 EDT: Fog from early this morning lifted from California's Vandenburg Air Force Base this afternoon, allowing the successful launch of an interceptor missile as a test of the proposed US missile defense system.

While the primary goal of the test was to analyze data from radar tracking systems on the intercept rocket -- and not to actually knock out the target missile, launched from Kodiak, AK -- US defense officials say the missile did successfully intercept the test drone -- a significant victory for a program that has seen its share of failures.

Original Report

An important test of the emerging US missile defense shield was scrubbed Thursday due to bad weather in Kodiak, AK... launch site for the target missile.

The Defense Department told CNN the $85 million test -- intended, at least officially, to collect data and NOT to shoot down the target -- could be rescheduled for Friday or Saturday. The interceptor missile will be launched from California's Vandenburg AFB.

"Bad weather and lightning at Kodiak" forced the postponement, according to Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin.

The delay is the latest blow to the problematic history of the missile-defense shield -- in development for years, but in the spotlight since July's series of missile launches by North Korea -- one of which was a long-range "Taeopodong 2" believed capable of reaching US territory.

As Aero-News reported, that test missile flew far shorter than intended -- spiralling earthward 42 seconds after launch.

During an appearance last weekend in Kodiak, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he was anticipating a full-scale test "where we actually put all the pieces together. That just hasn't happened."



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