Rocket explodes after takeoff
An investigative review board has been established to determine the cause of a rocket explosion that occurred moments after takeoff Wednesday night at Vandenberg Space Force Base, according to base officials.
The Minotaur II+ rocket exploded approximately 11 seconds after launching from Test Pad-01 at 11:01 p.m., the base said in a news release.
Officials said there were no injuries in the explosion and that the debris was contained to the immediate vicinity of the launch pad.
“We always have emergency response teams on standby prior to every launch,” said Col. Kris Barcomb, Space Launch Delta 30 vice commander and launch decision authority for this launch. “Safety is our priority at all times.”
The Vandenberg Fire Department responded to a fire linked to the launch that produced smoke but posed no danger to the rest of the base, officials added.
Santa Barbara County firefighters arrived on scene about 1:30 a.m. Thursday to combat the 100-acre blaze, said department spokesman Mike Eliason.
The test launch was designed to support the development of the Air Force’s new Mark21A re-entry vehicle, which rode aboard the Minotaur+ booster rocket that exploded, according to Noozhawk.
The MK21A re-entry vehicle will be used on the future LGM-35A Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile, officials said.