Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, or ICBMs, are one of the largest and most devastating weapons platforms ever developed by the human race, and the U.S. Department of Defense just shot one down.
On Wednesday, the DoD released footage of Tuesday’s test of the ground-based interceptor system, where the military shoots a rocket out of space with another rocket. The test fired an ICBM-sized target (in other words, an ICBM without an actual bomb on the end) from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, and then blew it up way over the Pacific with an interceptor missile fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Tuesday afternoon. In short, the video is wild.
The video footage shows the launch of both missiles — the ICBM streaks up from a tiny island in the middle of the ocean, burning like a deadly firefly into the upper atmosphere. Back at Vandenberg, the interceptor missile shoots out of an open hatch and into the sky. The cameras trace their flight paths up, and then switch to a long-range infrared view to capture the intercept, a massive fiery ball of distorted color. Check it out for yourself:
The subtext for all of this, of course, is that North Korea is very close to having a viable ICBM, which could drastically increase its capabilities to strike U.S. territory. The country has stepped up its missile program considerably in the past year, and U.S officials want to make sure they at least have some semblance of defensive measures in place. Smaller systems like the THAAD launcher are potentially effective in shooting down short and medium-range missiles, but ICBM countermeasures have rarely been tested. Still, after watching this video, it’s probably fine to feel a little bit safer from the threat of nuclear war.