Minotaur II+ rocket explodes seconds after takeoff

U.S. Space Force photo

A Minotaur II+ rocket exploded 11 seconds after lifting off from the launch pad of Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. 

The rocket was about to conduct an unarmed test launch supporting the development of the new Mk21A reentry vehicle.  

No injuries or damage, other than the rocket, were reported. 

“We always have emergency response teams on standby prior to every launch,” said Colonel Kris Barcomb, Space Launch Delta 30 Vice Commander at Vandenberg in a press release. “Safety is our priority at all times.” 

An investigation was launched to determine the cause of the explosion, which occurred at 11:01 p.m. PDT on July 6, 2022. 

Since 2019, Northrop Grumman and the United States Air Force have been working on a successor to the LGM-30 Minuteman, the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that currently composes the ground-based portion of the US nuclear deterrence triad. 

The future LGM-35A Sentinel ICBM, composed of the Mk21A reentry vehicle and the W87-1 nuclear warhead, is expected to enter service by 2029. 


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