Missile launched from Kodiak as part of Northern Edge exercises

Posted: Thursday, April 25, 2002

KODIAK (AP) -- The Air Force launched a missile from Kodiak Wednesday afternoon following a brief delay brought on by a fishing boat that strayed into the maritime exclusion zone.

The missile lifted off the pad at the Kodiak Rocket Launch Complex at 2 p.m. It had been scheduled for takeoff at 1:30 p.m. but was held off until the fishing vessel was contacted and departed from the area, said Air Force Maj. Richard Williamson.

After the boat left, the Air Force decided to wait a little longer because clouds were quickly dissipating, ensuring better conditions for launching, Williamson said.

The launch was part of the annual Northern Edge military exercises in Alaska. Other exercises were held Wednesday in Valdez and at Eielson Air Force Base and Elmendorf Air Force Base.

Williamson said the primary mission of the seven-minute flight was to simulate a battlefield ballistic missile attack against some of the 7,500 personnel participating in Northern Edge 2002, the state's largest joint training exercise.

The missile soared 375 miles southeast of Kodiak's Narrow Cape before falling into the Gulf of Alaska.

This is the first successful launch from the complex since a similar flight was aborted last fall when communications with that rocket failed shortly after liftoff.

The launch also was used to test experimental batteries, a device to measure acceleration being developed at the University of Mississippi and airborne instrumentation system operated by the Army's Space and Missile Defense Command.

The missile is known as a Quick Reaction Launch Vehicle.

Williamson said the term ''quick reaction'' refers to the relatively rapid pace at which the missiles are taken out of storage, safety tested, fitted with tail fins and nose cones and programmed -- one year rather than the two or three years it normally takes. The launch cost the government about $13.5 million.

Northern Edge kicked off Monday and runs through May 3. It includes active-duty, reserve and guard airmen, soldiers, sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen from the United States and the Pacific Region.

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