For the fifth time this year, Vandenberg Air Force Base is set to host an operational test launch this week of an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The test launch is scheduled to take place between 12:01 a.m. and 6:01 a.m. Wednesday from the north side of VAFB. The purpose of the test launch program is to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness and accuracy of the weapon system, according to Air Force Global Strike Command.

ICBMs carry the nation’s nuclear weapons.

This will be the second launch under 30th Space Wing Commander Col. J. Christopher Moss, who is the launch decision authority.

"This Minuteman III launch continues the tremendous teamwork between the 30th Space Wing and Air Force Global Strike Command," said Moss, who took over his current role in July. "Each test launch demonstrates both the capability of the Minuteman III missile, as well as the outstanding skill of the men and women who maintain and operate our nuclear missile systems."

Of the previous four Minuteman III test launches this year at VAFB, two were in March, one was in May and the most recent was in August.

Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.

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