Problematic Interceptor Missile To Resume In-flight Testing

Space News
By Titus Ledbetter III
September 14, 2012

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) hopes to resume flight testing late this year of the nation’s primary missile shield after a two-year hiatus following consecutive failures in early and late 2010.

The upcoming flight test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system is unusual in that it will not involve an attempt to intercept a target missile. Rather, it is intended to validate fixes to a key interceptor component cited in the most recent test failure, in December 2010.

The component, the Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) Capability Enhancement 2, is the business end of the missile shield, designed to home in on its target and destroy it via direct impact. It is an upgraded version of the EKV that tops the 20 U.S. missile interceptors deployed today at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and Fort Greely, Alaska.

The upcoming nonintercept test had been scheduled for this past spring but was postponed because of continuing technical concerns with the upgraded EKV …

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