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Space The Military

Russia Confirms Failed Missile Launch Caused Norway's Light Show 236

Ch_Omega writes "According to this article over at BarentsObserver, the giant spiral seen on the sky over Norway Wednesday morning local time has been confirmed to be the result of a failed Russian missile launch. Russia now confirms that '...the missile was launched from submerged position in the White Sea by the nuclear submarine Dmitri Donskoy. Studies of the telemetric data from the launch show that the two first stages of the missile functioned as they should, and that a technical malfunctioning occurred during the third stage.' There is also an article on this at The Daily Mail."
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Russia Confirms Failed Missile Launch Caused Norway's Light Show

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  • Re:Placement (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Friday December 11, 2009 @12:54AM (#30398484) Homepage

    It was happening at quite high altitude, visible from vast distance, so it wasn't really at the doorstep of Norway, probably.

    Plus Russia doesn't have exactly that much of a coastline as the first glance at many typical maps would suggest - the northern regions are quite close to the north pole, so they end up heavily "distorted" in certain map projections.

  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Friday December 11, 2009 @01:15AM (#30398570)

    This is a really cool new kind of fireworks. I've never seen one do this before.

  • by thaddeusthudpucker ( 1082657 ) on Friday December 11, 2009 @01:19AM (#30398580)
    ...Like in 1986 when it took radiation alarms going off in fucking SWEDEN before they admitted that they had literally nuked a city or two...
  • Re:Placement (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dakameleon ( 1126377 ) on Friday December 11, 2009 @01:47AM (#30398672)

    I thought Vietnam was mainly a China vs US gig?

    Can't help with the reason for why it's relevant to USSR's coastal access, but in 196x China wasn't exactly in a position to sponsor a proxy war, having just taken a bit of a misguided jump []. The proxy war was still between the USA and USSR.

  • Total Freak Out (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Friday December 11, 2009 @02:05AM (#30398738) Journal

    Imagine though how freaked out one would be walking outside and suddenly seeing a giant spinning spiral with a sci-fi-ish blue trail passing through the middle. Based on the youtube vids I saw, one could actually perceive the spinning motion.

    And double freaked out if walking out of a movie theater after seeing a scary movie. That's just one goddam weird pattern.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 11, 2009 @02:08AM (#30398756)

    Russia was shooting at Kura polygon on Kamchatka. Of course, one would want to shoot from north-west: the rocket flies the longest distance possible, nearly exclusively over Russian territory (this time it seems to be launched from neutral waters), and mainly over polar seas and eternally frozen lands. Given that the Bulava rocket was never built correctly (not for sea launches, at least), not flying it above heavily populated areas seems like a good idea...

  • by GigaplexNZ ( 1233886 ) on Friday December 11, 2009 @02:32AM (#30398816)
    Russia doesn't need to do anything to bring down the American economy. America did a fairly decent job of that itself not too long ago.
  • by benjamindees ( 441808 ) on Friday December 11, 2009 @03:11AM (#30398940) Homepage

    They hate us for our big-box retailers.

  • Re:No Fool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stuart Gibson ( 544632 ) on Friday December 11, 2009 @04:33AM (#30399280) Homepage

    But this story is in the Daily Mail. Since I don't believe anything they say maybe Russia *hasn't* denied it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 11, 2009 @11:52AM (#30402480)

    I am not really convinced either way yet. That video did not resemble anything I could imagine a rocket doing, but I don't know much about rockets. Does anyone know why the rocket would make a repeating spiral pattern like that and what the protruding light was? So far none of the sites reporting that it is a rocket explain how a rocket makes that pattern. I'm open to suggestions but until I here an explanation I have to side with this guy. That didn't look like a rocket.

    1) Fact: The pictures are long-exposures.

    2) Assumption: The rocket is spin-stabilized. (perfectly normal thing for a missile; it's been done for decades)

    3) Observation: A series of photographs showing a stretched-out blue spirally thing that gets bigger as it approaches the big white swirly thing, and a big white swirly thing that eventually turns into a cloudy white donut with a fuzzy blue cone at the center and fades out.

    4) Hypothesis: While in flight, the rocket's plume is bluish, and as the rocket gets closer to you, the apparent width of the plume gets wider. Something goes Very Wrong, perhaps at stage separation, causing the rocket to slightly change course by a few degrees, by sheer coincidence almost straight towards your camera - and simultaneously start venting boatloads of fuel. The vented fuel crystallizes in the upper atmosphere, looking like whitish snow, because the sun is still over the horizon at that altitude. Because it's now headed towards you, it looks like a rotary garden sprinkler - a big white spiral.

    When the damaged rocket runs out of venting fuel, the spiral stops getting new "white" added to it from the inside, but the remaining cone of vented fuel disperses and merges into the donut-shaped pattern seen towards the end of the sequence. (You can even see hints of its true shape - the base of a cone - in these images.)

    5) Supporting evidence: We know where the pictures were taken (news reports), and looking at the horizon (Google earth) in the images, it is clear that the viewers are looking north. Was there anything interesting north of the picture where the images were taken? Why, yes, the Russians were conducting a missile test in an ice-free sea location directly north of the viewer.

    6) Conclusion: A Russian missile test rocket was being fired almost directly towards the viewer, at a low angle, from beyond the horizon. This produced the blue cone. Something went Very Wrong, and the rocket spouts fuel as it heads, more or less, straight towards you. This produced the white spiral on a long exposure photograph. Out of fuel, the debris passed invisibly overhead. The absence of new material being added to the spiral produced the "hole" in the "donut" in the last photographs of the series.

    Sorry dude, it's doing exactly what I'd expect a rocket to do.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.