Mystery missile launch off California coast
2010 11 10

By Tony Barboza and W.J. Hennigan | BellinghamHerald.com


The orange tail of vapor seemed to hurtle skyward off the coast of Los Angeles.

And it didn’t take long for the video footage of what looked like a missile, shot by a news helicopter just before sunset Monday, to set off fierce speculation about a rogue missile or a secret government rocket test.

But the curiosity over what exactly was spotted roughly 35 miles off the Southern California coast was met Tuesday only by a puzzling lack of answers from federal officials.


Video shot by a news helicopter operated by KCBS/KCAL shows a contrail ascending high into the atmosphere.

Military and aviation authorities denied any knowledge of a scheduled launch and the Pentagon said only that it was looking into a report of an "unexplained contrail," or vapor trail left by an aircraft.

Whatever it was, it never posed a threat, officials said, and there’s no evidence it was a missile.

That didn’t stop aerospace experts, news outlets and curious onlookers from snapping photos and guessing the true nature of the "mystery missile" and who may have launched it.

Was it a Intercontinental Ballistic Missile fired off in error? Not according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which monitors the continent’s airspace.

Did a submarine launch the rocket as a test? Negative.

Was it an act of aggression by a foreign government? Absolutely not, the Pentagon quickly confirmed; there had been no threat to national security.

Or maybe, as some experts suggest, it was just an optical illusion that made an aircraft’s condensation trail look like something much more menacing.

John Pike, director of Globalsecurity.org, a military policy research website, said the idea that the government would carry out a secret launch at sunset within view of millions of people, is hard to believe.

"If it were secret, we’d do it at night in Alaska where only the caribou could see it," Pike said. "It’s an airplane contrail pure and simple."

Rocket launches are a common sight in Southern California and rarely go unnoticed. And if it were a planned event, military officials should have known weeks in advance.

Perhaps no one had a better view of the alleged rocket than KCBS cameraman Gil Leyvas.

He was aboard the television station’s helicopter shooting footage of the sunset over the ocean when at about 5:15 p.m. he noticed a spiral-shaped vapor trail and zoomed in to get a better look.

The on-board camera showed a plume twisting up from the horizon and narrowing as it climbed into the sky northwest of Catalina Island, he said.
"Whatever it was, it was spinning up into the sky kind of like a spiral," he said. "It was quite a sight to see. It was spectacular."

What was that Blue Light Spiral in Norway?

Was Norway’s HAARP Facility EISCAT Responsible for the Norway Spiral?

"Norway Spiral" spotted in Queensland, Australia

Communication With 50 Nuke Missiles Dropped in ICBM Snafu

He wasn’t the only one to see it.

When Kelly Spear looked out the back window of her San Pedro home west of downtown Los Angeles to see a rising orange line on the horizon she thought it might be a rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force base, a sight unusual enough for her to grab her telephoto lens and take a few shots.

"I told myself it was just a plane, but I really had no idea," she said. "We have a pretty expansive view, and I’ve never seen anything like that before."

Some aerospace experts who reviewed the footage said the size of the plume hinted that it was a government operation.

"It can’t belong to anyone but the military," said Marco Caceres, an analyst with Teal Group Corp., a Fairfax, Va.-based aerospace research company. The appearance of such a massive rocket contrail near military bases that are known for regularly testing missiles is unlikely to be a coincidence, Caceres said.

A more likely explanation, Caceres said: it was a mistake, perhaps a defense exercise launched by accident.

The military does, after all, operate a floating ocean platform and regularly carries out tests at San Nicolas Island, one of the Channel Islands, and Point Mugu Naval Air Station is a missile defense testing site.

All branches of the Department of Defense with rocket and missile programs reported no launches, scheduled or inadvertent, a Pentagon spokesman affirmed in a statement late Tuesday.

The Pentagon has not shed much light on what happened, but one official said an examination by multiple U.S. government agencies of radar data, satellite imagery and other sophisticated monitoring technology has turned up no conclusive evidence that a missile was fired in that vicinity and at that time.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said that FAA records showed commercial airliners were flying in the area at the time, and that most government experts were coming to the conclusion that the condensation trail was caused by an aircraft.

"The best we can tell, it was probably caused by an aircraft," the official said.

The Federal Aviation Administration did not approve any commercial space launches in the area Monday and did not receive reports of any unusual sightings from pilots, said FAA spokesman Ian Gregor.

After reports of the projectile surfaced, the agency ran radar replays of a large area west of Los Angeles and did not spot any fast-moving, unidentified targets in that area, Gregor said.

Mike Gruntman, a University of Southern California professor of Astronautics, reviewed the video but said any definitive answer on the mysterious projectile lies with the military.

The video that generated all the hoopla, he said, is so close up and of such low resolution that it’s hard to draw conclusions.

"It looks like a missile to me," he said. "But I cannot rule out that this is some kind of jet aircraft."

Article from: bellinghamherald.com




Mystery Missile Launch Seen off Calif. Coast

Video from: YouTube.com








Related Articles
Pentagon can’t explain apparent mystery plume off California coast
Mystery ’missile’ likely a jet contrail, says expert
The Spiral over Australia
What was that Blue Light Spiral in Norway?
Newfoundland object "not a missile" says Prime Minister’s Office
Jumbo-jet laser cannon tested against missile (Video)
Another Missile Failure?
Russian missile failure sparks "UFO frenzy" in Norway
Gates: Hawaii missile defense in place


Latest News from our Front Page

Former Chief Security Officer for NewsCorp: N. Koreans Not Behind Sony Hack, Interview Leak
2014-12-20 2:17
Hemanshu Nigam, a former federal prosecutor and former chief security officer for NewsCorp/Fox studios, says North Korea isn’t behind the Sony Hack. Nigam gave several bullet points for why the hack was likely an inside job. Attack code borrowed from a previous attack on Seoul, that’s why it’s in Korean. Private hackers typically borrow malicious code from other hackers.Nations state attacks follow ...
Sony Fires Back at Obama: Actually We Did Call the White House – Several Times
2014-12-20 2:13
Sony fired back at Obama after the press conference saying they had several conversations with the Obama White House before and after the movie was canceled. Via The Hollywood Reporter: After President Obama criticized Sony for its decision to cancel The Interview's release after theater chains decided not to show the film, the studio has issued a statement elaborating on the move. “The ...
The Bankster International
2014-12-20 1:55
Geopolitical analysis, the art of explaining power relationships through the prism of impersonal geography, can be a helpful tool for observers of the Great Game – but it also has its limitations. A case in point is the renewed US-Russia confrontation. Think tanks and policy insiders easily sell the narrative that from the dark days of the Cold War to ...
Another banker dies under suspicious circumstances
2014-12-20 1:09
52-year-old Belgian Geert Tack – a private banker for ING who managed portfolios for wealthy individuals – was described as ‘impeccable’, ‘sporty’, ‘cared-for’, and ‘successful’ and so as Vermist reports, after disappearing a month ago, the appearance of his body off the coast of Ostend is surrounded by riddles… Impeccable. Sporty. Cared for. Successful. Just some qualifications that are attributed to ...
NATO increases military presence on Russia’s borders
2014-12-20 1:14
The Pentagon has confirmed the military buildup along Russia’s borders to ensure long-term “peace and stability” in the region. Earlier Moscow accused NATO of a sharp increase in air activity and intelligence flights in the border zone. Replying to RIA Novosti’s query on the increased number of NATO flights around Russia’s borders, a Pentagon representative told the news agency that the military ...
More News »