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Air Force, Army Launch Two Rockets, Complete Test Successfully



VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.--- The U.S. Air Force and Army successfully launched two Lockheed Martin rockets today within minutes of each other, but 4,200 miles apart, completing a test supporting the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization's (BMDO) National Missile Defense program.
A Multi-Service Launch System (MSLS) rocket, launched by the Air Force, lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 7:21 p.m. PDT carrying a suite of targets.
A Payload Launch Vehicle (PLV), launched by the Army, lifted off from the Kwajalein test range in the South Pacific approximately 21 minutes later carrying an exoatmospheric kill vehicle that acquired, tracked and discriminated between the targets and then destroyed the primary target.
The MSLS is a refurbished, three-stage Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a new front section. Lockheed Martin Astronautics designed and built the new front section and associated flight hardware for the MSLS and provides launch services under contract to the U.S. Air Force Test and Evaluation Directorate, Space & Missile Systems Center, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. All five MSLS flights have been successful. Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space is the prime contractor for the PLV which also is a refurbished, two-stage Minuteman II ICBM with a new front section. Today's MSLS mission successfully deployed two inert targets while the PLV delivered and deployed the exoatmospheric kill vehicle.
"This fifth consecutive successful flight of the MSLS has demonstrated the reliability of this vehicle as well as Lockheed Martin's continuing commitment to mission success,'' said G. Thomas Marsh, Lockheed Martin Astronautics president. "Today's test provides the BMDO important information to be used in strengthening the defense of the United States. We are pleased to be a member of the team that worked together to make the mission a success.''
The MSLS is designed to launch a variety, or "multi-service'' classes of missions, including ballistic experiments, like the one launched today, carrying payloads weighing up to 1,450 pounds as far as 4,200 miles downrange. This was the fifth MSLS launch. The first four were launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on Sept. 27, 1996, January 16, 1997, June 23, 1997, and Jan. 15, 1998.
Astronautics and Missiles & Space are two of the operating units of Lockheed Martin Space Systems headquartered in Bethesda, Md. Both companies design, develop, test and manufacture a variety of advanced technology systems for space and defense. Astronautics' chief products include interplanetary spacecraft and other space systems, space launch systems and ground systems. The chief products of Missiles & Space include fleet ballistic missiles, missile defense systems and spacecraft for commercial and government customers.

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Air Force, Army Launch Two Rockets, Complete Test Successfully