Orbital Sciences has completed the successful launch of a Patriot Target Vehicle (PTV) to support test firing of the Lockheed Martin-built Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile system at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) in New Mexico, US.

Also known as Juno, the PTV was lifted from Fort Wingate, near Gallup in New Mexico, as part of a contract with the US Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) Space Development Launch Operations (SDLO).

During the testing, the Juno tactical ballistic missile (TBM) target followed a southerly trajectory over WSMR and was intercepted during re-entry by two PAC-3 missiles in a ripple fire engagement.

Ron Wiley, Orbital Suborbital Launch Systems senior vice president, said: "We look forward to supporting future tests for the Space and Missile Systems Center with the Juno target, which has successfully demonstrated its capabilities as a robust, well-characterized target system for SDLO missions and Patriot engagements."

Developed in two and a half years, the Juno TBM features selectable re-entry dynamic performance and leverage flight-proven designs from other company launch vehicles, such as the medium range target, storm short-range target and Pegasus space launch vehicle.

Orbital supplied second PTV for test flight of the Patriot Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) interceptor system in March 2011.

PAC-3 is an advanced, hit-to-kill air defence projectile weapon designed to defend the US against incoming tactical ballistic miles (TBMs), cruise missiles, aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by direct, body-to-body impact.