Army to launch missile that may be visible to Arizona residents

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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The Army plans to launch a target missile from a site in northwestern New Mexico that may be visible to Arizona residents Thursday morning.

Officials said the Juno missile will be launched between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. MST from Fort Wingate, which is near Gallup.

The missile will drop a booster into a safety zone on private and national forest land north of Datil, New Mexico, during its flight to the White Sands Missile Range.

White Sands is about 215 miles southeast of Fort Wingate.

In 2012, residents of Tucson, Phoenix, Flagstaff, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction, as well as many people in New Mexico, saw an early morning launch of the Juno missile at White Sands Missile Range and Fort Wingate.

Witnesses of previous launches have seen the second stage of the missile burning in the dark sky and the contrail left behind as the rising sun strikes the exhaust gases and ice crystals.

Range officials said there will be roadblocks around the launch area at Fort Wingate, but that the launch can be viewed from Red Rock Park in Gallup. The city will be opening the Red Rock parking area early on Thursday to accommodate spectators.

Officials said Juno missiles are used as targets for interceptor missiles, which are being tested at White Sands Missile Range. They are two-stage missiles constructed of U.S. components to simulate the threat of Scud-like ballistic missiles found around the world.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Copyright 2015 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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