Mystery Missile Launches Off California Coast

A mysterious missile was launched in the Pacific Ocean offthe southern California coast Monday night (Nov. 8), according to news reports.

CBS affiliate KCBS caughtthe launch on camera, but reported that U.S. military officials are"tight-lipped over the nature of the projectile."

In the video, the missile can beseen leaving a long exhaust plume as it soars into the evening sky. The missilelaunch occurred about 35 miles out to sea, west of Los Angeles and north of CatalinaIsland.

A Navy spokesperson told KFMB the mystery launch wasn'ttheir missile and that no Navy activity had been reported in the area Mondayevening.

An ?unmanned Delta2 rocket did launch from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base late Friday(Nov. 5), but no other launches were scheduled, officials told CBS.

A report by MSNBC concurred. "Pentagon, Navy tell NBCthey have no idea who launched Monday night's missile off Calif. coast. 'We'rechecking,' frustrated officials say," MSNBC posted on its @breakingnewsTwitter page.

KFMB showed video of the apparent missile to former U.S.Ambassador to NATO Robert Ellsworth, who is also a former Deputy Secretary ofDefense. Ellsworth speculated that the missile could possibly have been ademonstration of American military might timed to coincide with Obama's tour ofAsia.

"It could be a test-firing of an intercontinentalballistic missile from a submarine ? to demonstrate, mainly to Asia, that wecan do that," Ellsworthtold CBS.

Ellsworth told KFMB that similar tests to tout our militarymight were carried in the Atlantic Ocean when the Soviet Union existed, thoughhe doesn't think an intercontinental ballisticmissile (ICBM) has ever been tested by the United States over the PacificOcean.

The U.S. military does, however, conduct missile and otherweapons tests over the Pacific Ocean that are publicly announced.

On Oct. 29, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency conducted a drillwith the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in a joint test of ballistic missiledefense intercept capabilities.

Jeanna Bryner is the Managing Editor of LiveScience, asister site to SPACE.com.

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