The Pentagon declared a success of its fifth test of a planned national missile defense (NMD) system Monday intended to shoot down incoming long-range missiles.
In the test, an interceptor rocket launched from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall islands knocked down a mock warhead fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, about 7,725 kilometers away. The interception took place at about 10:30 p.m. EST (03:30 GMT), the Pentagon said.
"We achieved intercept," said Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin.
Bad weather near the Vandenberg base had twice delayed the teston Saturday night and Sunday night. Monday's launch was delayed for nearly an hour.
At 9:59 p.m. EST (02:59 GMT), a modified Minuteman II target missile carrying a dummy warhead was fired over the Pacific from Vandenberg. Instead of explosives, the warhead contained instruments to track its progress and carried a balloon decoy designed to confuse the interceptor.
After 22 minutes, the interceptor missile carrying a "kill vehicle" projectile was launched from Kwajalein Atoll. About 9 minutes later, the "kill vehicle" separated from the rocket booster and slammed into the mock warhead about 225 kilometers over the Pacific.
The test was part of a controversial missile defense system aimed to protect the United States against long-rang ballistic missile attacks by what the Bush Administration calls "rogue states."
Two of the four previous tests succeeded and the other two failed. Monday's test was nearly identical to a successful one on July 14.
(People's Daily December 4, 2001)