Mystery missile launch off California coast
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
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
The FDA Admits That Prior to 2011 Over 70% of U.S. Chickens Contained Cancer-Causing Arsenic
Prior to 2011, the cancer-causing toxic chemical Roxarsone, which in high doses could kill you, was being added to chicken feed on purpose, giving store-bought chicken the illusion of healthy coloring and plump appearance. Shockingly, this was the case with more than 70 percent of all U.S. chickens! A recent article was published stating that this continued to be the ...
The Truth About Starbucks New Coconut Milk: It Isn’t Really Coconut Milk
In an attempt to appeal to the non-dairy crowd, Starbucks is bringing “coconut milk” to the masses. After a successful trial run in select cities at the behest of their customers, Starbucks has decided to push forward with their dairy alternative.
Providing a non-dairy alternative to dairy and soy is the second most requested customer idea of all time from MyStarbucksIdea.com, ...
USDA on board with shipping U.S. chickens to China for processing, then re-entry to States for human consumption
“Chinese chicken” will soon have a whole new meaning, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently gave the green-light to four chicken processing plants in China, allowing chicken raised and slaughtered in the U.S. to be exported to China for processing, and then shipped back to the U.S. and sold on grocery shelves here. Furthermore, the imported processed ...
Feinstein: Netanyahu does not speak for all Jews
US Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as an “arrogant” man who does not speak for all Jews.
The Jewish lawmaker made the remarks in an interview with CNN on Sunday ahead of Netanyahu's controversial visit to the United States.
The Israeli premier arrived in Washington, DC, on Sunday night ...
Netanyahu to US: Don’t negotiate ‘bad deal’ with Iran
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called on the United States not to negotiate “a very bad deal” with Iran over its nuclear energy program.
Speaking at a joint session of the US Congress in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, Netanyahu said, “We’ve been told for over a year that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well this is a ...
|More News » |