US test-launches intercontinental missile from Vandenberg AFB

USAF/Getty Images

The U.S. Air Force launched an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile from Vandenberg Air Force Base Wednesday. (An unarmed Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Photo by USAF/Getty Images)

The U.S. Air Force has launched an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile from a California base, a month after the test flight was postponed because of tensions with North Korea.
    
Vandenberg Air Force Base says the Minuteman 3 lifted off at 6:27 a.m. PDT Wednesday. It later splashed down thousands of miles away in the Pacific.
    
It's the first Minuteman test-launch of the year. Several Minutemans are launched each year at from Vandenberg to determine the weapon system's accuracy and reliability.

The original mid-April flight was postponed by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel amid concerns that it might be misinterpreted during a time of heightened tension with North Korea.

The launch was rescheduled for Tuesday morning but was pushed back a day due to a problem with range safety instruments.

The U.S. has 450 nuclear-armed Minuteman 3 missiles ready for combat use, if directed by the president. They are in underground silos in five states.

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