NFIRE missile defense experiment lifts off from Vandenberg

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Vandenberg successfully launched a space launch vehicle, the Chimera, which is a modified Minuteman II booster vehicle with a simplified target payload today at 1:31 a.m. from North Vandenberg.

The launch was part of an exercise involving the tracking of a long-range target missile by the NFIRE, or Near Field Infrared Experiment, research satellite.

"This is another example of the flawless teamwork between the 30th Space Wing and the Missile Defense Agency," said Col. Steve Tanous, 30th Space Wing commander. "This launch showcases our mission here at Vandenberg - conducting launch and range operations to deliver space power for the Air Force, DoD and our commercial partners."

This exercise provided an opportunity for the NFIRE satellite to collect high and low resolution images of a boosting rocket which will improve understanding of missile exhaust plume observations and plume-to-rocket body discrimination.

Program officials will continue to evaluate system performance based upon telemetry and other data obtained during the exercise. The Missile Defense Agency, a joint service agency of the Department of Defense, will use this data to validate and update models and simulations that are fundamental to missile defense technologies.