A news helicopter caught video last night of a missile launching off the coast of Los Angeles, 35 miles from shore. Nobody is claiming ownership of the bird. Former US Ambassador to NATO Robert Ellsworth, a former deputy secretary of defense, suggests to CBS8 that "It could be a test firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine underwater… to demonstrate mainly to Asia, that we can do that." From CBS8.com:
A Navy spokesperson tells News 8, this wasn't its missile. He said there was no Navy activity reported in that part of the region.
On Friday, November 5, Vandenberg Air Force Base launched a Delta II rocket, carrying the Thales Alenia Space-Italia COSMO SkyMed satellite, but a sergeant at the base tells News 8, there have been no launches since then.
UPDATE: On the "Jonathan's Space Report" Facebook page, Astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell says, "My guess is a Missile Defense Agency target launch from San Nicolas Island whose contrail just happened to catch the light well." (Thanks, Maggie!)
UPDATE: From CNN:
The Pentagon is unable to explain images of what witnesses took to be a high-altitude rocket launched off the coast of southern California at sunset Monday, officials said.
But John Pike, a defense expert who is director of GlobalSecurity.org, said he believes he has solved the mystery.
"It's clearly an airplane contrail," Pike said Tuesday afternoon. "It's an optical illusion that looks like it's going up, whereas in reality it's going towards the camera. The tip of the contrail is moving far too slowly to be a rocket. When it's illuminated by the sunset, you can see hundreds of miles of it … all the way to the horizon.
UPDATE: From the AP:
"There is no evidence to suggest that this is anything else other than a condensation trail from an aircraft," said Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan, who reiterated that there was no threat to America.