Saw the Minuteman III lanuch

J. Lee Blanton (
Fri, 18 Sep 1998 09:13:02 -0700


I was able to see the Minuteman III launched from Vandenberg shortly after
1:00 AM PDT last night.  I'm about 200 miles from the launch site.  The
missile was naked-eye visible for several minutes as an orange point of
light rising diagonally in the sky.  Through 7x35 binoculars I was able to
make out a dim contrail against the sky background.  I watched it for about
3 minutes as it moved away.  Toward the end of that time I was able to see
a momentary blossoming of the flame in what was apparently staging.  Then I
looked away for a moment and wasn't able to recover sight of it again. :-(

I was surprised and happy that I could see anything from this distance.
The missile must have been very far away when staging occurred.

J. Lee Blanton                          email:     
Temecula, California                    Tel/Voicemail/FAX:   (909) 699-6903
33.502N 117.128W 412m