The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed on Thursday that it launched a Bulava missile on Wednesday and that the missile’s third stage failed
It looked like a time-travelling vortex fit for Doctor Who, but a strange spiral observed in the skies above Norway on Wednesday morning was actually a failed Russian missile launch, says a Harvard astrophysicist who monitors space launches.
The giant, glowing white spiral was reportedly visible all over northern Norway between about 0645 and 0700 GMT. “It consisted initially of a green beam of light similar in colour to the aurora with a mysterious rotating spiral at one end,” eye witness Nick Banbury of Harstad said, according to Spaceweather.com. “This spiral then got bigger and bigger until it turned into a huge halo in the sky with the green beam extending down to Earth.”
Speculation that it was a bright meteor was quickly dismissed – in part because the apparition lasted for too long to be an incoming space rock. Suspicion then turned to an out-of-control missile.
That is exactly what it was, says Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and author of Jonathan’s Space Report, a fortnightly email newsletter about space launches. “It’s definitely a missile launch failure,” he told New Scientist.
Interesting green beam…. looks pretty green doesn’t it. Wouldn’t want to call it a beam of any other color because people might end up in a spooky or kooky corner of the web.