Defense Agency lights up East Bay

The Associated Press
Tuesday October 15, 2002

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE — The nation’s missile defense system was successfully tested Monday night as a Minuteman II missile was destroyed in the atmosphere by an interceptor missile. 

The test provided a colorful light show for much of California, with the launch of the Minuteman II providing a contrail that people as far north as the San Francisco Bay area and south to Los Angeles reported seeing. 

The modified Minuteman II, carrying a mock warhead and an unspecified number of decoys, was launched from this central California base at 7 p.m., sent on a 4,800-mile path toward the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. 

“This was a test of the interceptor missile designed for use against long-range missiles in the protection of our homeland,” said U.S. Missile Defense Agency Lt. Col. Rick Lehner in Washington, D.C. 

At 7:22 p.m., an interceptor missile was launched from the Kwajalein Atoll, and it hit the Minuteman six minutes later. 

“It directly collided with the Minuteman,” Lehner said. 

It was the seventh such test for the Missile Defense Agency and the fourth consecutive test to be successful, Lehner said. Of the seven tests, five in all have been successful.