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Who launched the mystery missile over California?

By Melissa Bell
(Screengrab from KFMB)

About 5 p.m. yesterday, a mystery missile launched off the coast of California. Southern California is a hotbed of military activity, with a Marine training ground and a huge Navy base, and yet no one really knows where the missile came from. The Navy, Air Force, Defense Department and North American Aerospace Defense Command have no explanation. The Pentagon is not sure where it came from.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command public affairs officer told NPR's Tom Gjelten that there is no indication of threat to the country. Phew. But they don't know who did it.

I'll humbly throw in some guesses:

It's the Marine Corps. It is the 235th birthday of the Marine Corps. tomorrow. The Marine Corps base camp in Southern California just happens to sit about 80 miles south of Los Angeles. Obviously, some excited reveler had been planning an ornate celebration for his gang and set off the fireworks (Marines use missiles as fireworks, right?) a couple days early.

It's the UFOs. Today marks Carl Sagan's birthday (I see a birthday conspiracy) and the guy was a huge believer in the search for extraterresterial life. Aliens decided to honor his anniversary by paying a quick visit.

It is Los Angeles we're talking about here. Perhaps Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan decided to get together for some afternoon tea.

Conan O'Brien went to great lengths to promote his show. And the missile does match his signature orange. Coincidence?

Truthfully, the whole thing is rather unsettling. My brother lives in Los Angeles. I'd like random missiles to not be going off in the vicinity of him and 9,862,048 other people. And so I hope for a rational explanation. Like the Sheen/Lohan tea party. Want to suggest other ideas?

Update: Reader Bohaha pointed me to this article in CBC News from January that talks about another mysterious object that was shot over Newfoundland. And the police are just as cagey and not knowing, but knowing!

"We confirmed that it was something," Sgt. Wayne Edgecombe told CBC News. But Edgecombe said he couldn't reveal what the police investigation uncovered.

There. Mystery solved. The Canadians did it.

Updated Part Two: So now it turns out it was just a boring old plane, or so say civilian experts. It was just a plane leaving behind a large condensation trail, or contrail. Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear weapons expert at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, told the Post's John Pomfret: "There are multiple hypotheses for the contrail seen near Los Angeles. But the most likely one is pretty boring: It's a jet . . . viewed from a weird angle."

By Melissa Bell  | November 9, 2010; 12:41 PM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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Has anybody seen those guys from Mythbuster's lately?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | November 9, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Something similar happened off the coast of Newfoundland earlier this year...check out this url

Posted by: bohaha | November 9, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

It's insane that our billion-dollar-a-day defense establishment can't immediately determine who launched what missile within a few miles of Los Angeles immediately.

Some private investigation suggests that it was a missile test launched by Boeing from the U.S. Naval pad on San Nicolas Island. From the video, it appears to be a major intercontinental missile, not fireworks.

Posted by: Westmiller | November 9, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Actually, "those guys from Mythbusters" were in Delaware hosting a Discovery Channel special on last weekend's annual Punkin' Chunkin' festival. And since the only Unlimited Class rule for chunkin' a pumpkin is "no explosives", I don't think they were responsible for the missle.

Posted by: greggwiggins | November 9, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

two words: Iron Man

Posted by: wpost16 | November 9, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Whoever built that rocket put on a show.
If I was to take Northern Command at their word
up to this point in time
“no threat to our nation…
not a launch by a foreign military…”
then you have some kid,
who built a rocket,
launched it at a party or something...
maybe I don’t know,
but I did think the rocket was really cool looking,
if you’re into rocketry that is.
Sounds to me like there’s a bonehead afoot
southern California is filled with boneheads.

Send in the “National Enquirer”.

Posted by: steve_real | November 9, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Somebody pressed the "lunch" button.

Posted by: MyPostYourPostLetsCallTheWholeThingOff | November 9, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Somebody pressed the "lunch" button.

Posted by: MyPostYourPostLetsCallTheWholeThingOff | November 9, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Anybody call Sea Launch yet? They're based in Long Beach (CA) and load the rockets there before they sail out to the equator for launch. They just came out of chapter 11 last week!

Maybe they had a mishap in transit?

Posted by: BryGuyH | November 9, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps a secret test of an undersea launch by one of our nuclear subs. But (if so) why does the Navy deny it rather than remain mum?

Posted by: JohnUmana | November 9, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Carl Sagan was not "huge believer in the search for extraterresterial (sic) life."
He was one of the first serious skeptics to argue against that likelihood.

Posted by: rbrosmer | November 9, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

The USS Ronald Reagan is very close and is one of our most power CVNs, which should be protected by a one of our newer fast attack subs (USS Hawaii (SSN-776). If there is anything to this story, then it will be hard to miss seeing the USS Ronald Reagan turning around from helping that cruse ship and heading north to investigate a submarine launch ICBM.

Posted by: GreggorySpam | November 9, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

It is not a missile. It is an aircraft. If you time what looks like the "assent" and you know anything about these things, you will discover that the timing is all wrong and this thing is not going fast enough to be a missile.

Similar things have been seen before, see:

What is throwing a lot of people, besides the vertical looking nature of the contrail, is the very bright light at a point where the "rocket nozzle" would be -but what is going on is and effect of the sun angle. This was at sunset and the sun was brilliantly illuminating the skin of the aircraft.

Posted by: plaza04433 | November 9, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Video of the military response here:

Posted by: soprych | November 9, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

so funny canada did it I think it was the us screwing up again . ops they did it again . morons

Posted by: godin_jerry | November 9, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

The mainstream media's response will be:
1) It is definitely not a terrorist act.
2) It is not our missile.
3) We do not know where it came from.
4) We will bury this story until the next news story surfaces, which will be in about 8 hours.

Posted by: DanGilby | November 9, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

I'll share one better. How about two, silver missiles streaming SE of Sebaka, MN towards Eau Claire, WI at appx. 4:15pm Sunday Nov. 7, 2010? No doubt or notoriety intended, just think about it.

Posted by: polebhl | November 10, 2010 1:01 AM | Report abuse

This story was actually fun to watch on cable news networks. They had absolutely no idea what they were looking at and speculation was rampant. (MISSILE LAUNCHED FROM SUB - NORTH KOREAN? - OVER CALIFORNIA!!!)

When the Pentagon said it's not a missile, cable networks went bonkers, accusing the Pentagon of holding back information because it might be "Black Ops."

When the Pentagon finally said, "Oh, it's probably just a civilian airliner at altitude," the press THEN blamed the Pentagon for taking too long (36 HOURS!!!!) to explain why a civilian airliner might be on its normal route over the Pacific coast.

Cable networks are a bunch of Gomers.

Posted by: dastubbs | November 10, 2010 11:30 PM | Report abuse

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