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Military missile blows up seconds after test launch on Central Coast

A missile exploded seconds after liftoff from Vandenberg Space Force Base Wednesday night. No one was hurt, but debris was scattered in the launch area, and it started a small brush fire.

Explosion showers debris on launch pad, starts small brush fire but no injuries reported at Vandenberg Space Force Base.

A military missile test launch on the Central Coast ended in failure, with the missile blowing up seconds after launch from Vandenberg Space Force Base.

A Minotaur II+ missile lifted off from Vandenberg’s Test Pad 01 at 11:01 p.m. Wednesday night. It’s on the north side of the base. Vandenberg officials say it blew up about 11 seconds later.

As is routine during launches, base emergency crews were on standby monitoring the launch. There were no reports of injuries. Base officials say the debris was contained to the area of the launch pad. But, the explosion did trigger a small brush fire in the area.

The missile was carrying what is known as the Mk21A reentry vehicle, which is intended to be used on a new intercontinental ballistic missile. They are both under development.

But, the Minotaur II rocket used existing technology, in the form of decommissioned Minuteman II missile boosters.

There have been more than a half dozen successful Minotaur II launches over the last 20 years before this explosion.

An investigation into the accident is underway.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.