'Mystery Missile Launch' Leaves California Scratching Its Head

A San Francisco Los Angeles television station captured amazing video, yesterday evening, of what appears to be a missile flying high, about 35 miles off the California coast. KCBS' news chopper video shows an impressive rocket trailed by a plume of smoke. The whole scene is bathed in the golden light of a California sunset and according to reports, the light emanating from object could be seen in Los Angeles.

So who launched it? The KFMB video above reports neither the Navy nor the Air Force would take responsibility. The Los Angeles Times reports that launches off the coast aren't uncommon and "some have speculated it was a private rocket launch."

Which is to say that it's all still a mystery.

UPDATE, 12:33 p.m.: NPR's Tom Gjelten did some digging and Lt. Desmond James, a public affairs officer with NORAD, sent him this statement:

NORAD and USNORTHCOM are aware of the unexplained contrail reported off the coast of Southern California yesterday evening.   At this time, we are unable to provide specific details, but we are working to determine the exact nature of this event. We can confirm that there is no indication of any threat to our nation and we will provide more information as it becomes available.

2:27 p.m.: NORAD added a bit more detail to its statement, saying, now, that "from all indications this was not a launch by a foreign military."

4:23 p.m.: Quoting a spokesman, The Los Angeles Times reports that the FAA didn't approve "any commercial space launches in the area Monday."

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: