The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization's (BMDO) National Missile Defense (NMD) Joint Program Office announced today that preliminary analysis from the planned intercept of a ballistic missile target early this morning over the central Pacific Ocean concluded that no separation occurred between the Payload Launch Vehicle (PLV) booster rocket, and the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV). Reports from program officials indicate that while the first and second stages of the booster separated successfully, the PLV started to tumble slowly after it made an energy management maneuver designed to keep it safely within the confines of the missile test range. The second anomaly was that the EKV never received a message from the PLV indicating that the second stage rocket motor had completed its propellant burn. Receipt of this signal is required for the EKV to separate and perform its intercept function. Initial cooldown of the EKV's infrared sensors and all other functions of the EKV were performing as designed up to the point where separation was to occur.
All other elements, including the sensors, the in-flight interceptor communications system (IFICS) and the battle management, command and control and communication systems performed as expected. Preliminary indications are that the prototype X-band radar at Kwajalein Atoll performed well and discriminated the mock warhead from all other objects, including the debris from an improperly inflated decoy balloon.
Government and industry program officials will conduct a thorough review of the test data to determine the reason for the anomalies and any other test objectives that were or were not met. It will be at least several days until this review is completed.
The flight test began with the launch of a modified Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a target warhead from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., at 12:19 a.m. EDT, and the PLV with the EKV on board was launched approximately 20 minutes later about 4,300 miles away from Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
Additional information about the overall NMD program can be obtained by accessing the BMDO website at http://www.acq.osd.mil/bmdo/bmdolink/html/bmdolink.html