Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Missile test failed, but Alaska's role 'flawless'

The news (via New Scientist) is bad.

A test of the controversial US missile defence system failed on Sunday - the second time this has happened in recent months. The failure has once again drawn condemnation of the programme from critics.

An interceptor missile sited on an island base in the Pacific Ocean was meant to obliterate a test ballistic missile in mid-flight, but it failed to launch, officials from the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) revealed on Monday. "Preliminary indications point to a fault with the ground support equipment, not the interceptor missile," it says.

The target missile, carrying a mock warhead, did launch from Kodiak, Alaska at 0922 local time. But the interceptor missile - a rocket carrying a "kill vehicle" that detaches and homes in on the target - failed to get off the ground at the Ronald Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Island in the central Pacific.

It will take 60 days to ready another test. Reuters reports that Bush's 2006 budget proposal would slash spending on ballistic missile defense, the single largest U.S. research and development project, by $1 billion to about $8.8 billion.

So, your multi-billion dollar shoot-down-bullets-wth-bullets system fails, yet again. How's a free-spending big-government team keep their chin up? Remember Reagan's favorite joke about how the kid finds a pile of turds in the barn and begins smiling because there must be a pony in there somewhere? Here's a little of that old-fashioned sunny-side-upism for you:

It was a failure, but the Alaskan Command says its part in a U.S. missile defense system test Sunday was flawless.

Members of the Legislature’s Joint-Armed Services Committee were briefed on military issues Tuesday in Juneau. Sunday evening a missile was successfully launched from Kodiak as part of a test of the missile defense system. However, military officials say an interceptor missile in the central Pacific did not launch.

Officials blamed a malfunction with ground-support equipment.

“I would tell you that we have had flawless target launches from Kodiak complex, and you read the newspaper concerning the interceptors over the last two attempted tests. I would anticipate that those tests will continue in the near future,” said Carrol Chandler, commander of the Alaska Command.

The test launches cost $85 million each. Sunday marked the second failure in the last few months.

Let your smile be your nuclear umbrella.


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