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National UFO Reporting Center
Sighting Report
Occurred : 9/19/2002 19:35 (Entered as : 09/19/02 19:35)
Reported: 9/19/2002 8:04:16 PM 20:04
Posted: 3/11/2003
Location: Redding, CA
Shape: Light
bright white light in evening sky with cone shaped tail exploded and vanished.

A white light object a little brighter than Venus with a "tail fan" of about thirty degrees, in the west-south west sky about 40 degrees above the horizon was seen traveling from south to north. There was no contrail behind it. It seemed to explode and the vanished. no smoke or residual was seen. The sky was stll light just before dusk and there was a nearly full moon in the south east. Venus ( I think it is Venus) was in the west. No sound. Subsequently notices a wavery contral low in the southern sky. May have been associated but could see no direct connection. It was moving fast but not nearly as fast as a meteorite. It was quite large as compared to a jet liner, maybe 4 times as large. I justhappened to be taking an evening walk and noticed the event. Except that it was moving too fast, I thought it was a comet at first. I think it may have been some kind of a rocket test that went wrong.

((NUFORC Note: Missile launch from Vandenberg AFB. Please see article. PD))


Air Force Test Missile Out West
Fri Sep 20, 1:25 AM ET

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) - An Air Force missile test Thursday provided a spectacular light show seen over California and much of the West, as far away as Utah and New Mexico.

The colorful contrail was seen soon after the unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile blasted off at 7:36 p.m. from an underground silo at the Vandenberg military base north of Santa Barbara.

"The smoke went up in spirals as the sun was setting and turned into an orange, amber color. It was like a flower going into bloom pretty quickly," said Simon Cox, who saw it from a restaurant terrace in Santa Barbara.

The missile traveled about 4,200 miles in about 30 minutes, striking a predetermined target at the Kwajalein Missile Range in the western chain of the Marshall Islands, the Air Force said.

Vandenberg spokeswoman Kelly Gabel said clear conditions were responsible for the spectacular light show.

"We do this two or three times a year, but because the weather was so perfect we decided to launch it early," Gabel said. As a result, people were still awake to see it, and although the sun had set, sunlight below the horizon glinted off unspent fuel particles and water droplets.

"Suddenly we're getting calls from people as far away as New Mexico who saw it and want to know what it is," Gabel said.

The mission was directed by the 576th Flight Test Squadron at Vandenberg and the 341th Space Wing and the 341st Space Wing, from Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.

The purpose was to test launch systems and the missile's accuracy and reliability.