Over the weekend, a test was conducted on a Boeing designed ground-based defense system designed to protect the United States from ballistic missile attacks. The Pentagon has deemed the missile interceptor test a success. The test involved launching a three-stage interceptor from a silo located on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
After the interceptor missile blasted off, the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle, developed by Raytheon, was deployed and traveled to a designated point in space. In this particular test, there was no dummy target missile for the system to intercept. Instead, the kill vehicle executed a variety of preplanned maneuvers while collecting performance data in space.
The kill vehicle is designed to identify, lock on, and eliminate high-speed ballistic missile warheads while they are in space. The kill vehicle uses no explosives and destroys the missile by the sheer force of the impact. Raytheon calls the system hit to kill. The program has had failures in the past.
Flight testing of the defense system was suspended in early 2011 after an error resulted in a failed intercept during a test conducted in December of 2010. Program participants say that they used industry and government expertise to solve a complex technical issue related to what the kill vehicle experiences in space. This test is one of the steps to getting the system ready to resume intercept testing.
[via LA Times]