Mystery Missile: Launch of Unknown Missile Caught on Tape in California

Military investigating missile video; no agencies claim responsibility yet.

ByABC News
November 9, 2010, 11:21 AM

Nov. 9, 2010— -- Military officials are still unclear as to what caused the "mystery missile" contrail spotted off the Southern California coast last night, but the most likely theory appears to be that an airplane was responsible.

Some experts believe the "mystery missile" is an optical illusion involving atmospherics and the contrails of a plane flying off in the distance.

Military officials have spent all day trying to determine who or what may have been responsible for what seemed like a mysterious missile launch caught on tape Monday night by a news helicopter off the Southern California coast.

There has been much speculation that the mysterious contrail may have been caused by a missile, a plane or an optical illusion of a plane's contrails.

Defense Department officials say that though there is nothing conclusive, it appears that a plane may have caused the mysterious contrail.

A defense official says the Pentagon has determined there were no scheduled or inadvertent missile launches off the California coast last night and that U.S. Northern Command has confirmed that there was no foreign military launch off the coast.

In a statement earlier today, Northern Command said they were continuing to investigate the origin of the apparent missile launch, but said they had determined "that there is no threat to our nation, and from all indications this was not a launch by a foreign military."

The contrail of what appears to be a missile streaking into the California sunset was captured on video by a KCBS-TV news helicopter flying above Los Angeles at around 5 p.m. Pacific time.

The crew aboard the helicopter estimated the contrail was approximately 35 miles west out to sea, north of Catalina Island.