|Occurred : 9/19/2002 19:00 (Entered as : 9/19/2002 1900)
Reported: 9/19/2002 8:12:21 PM 20:12
Location: Lemoore, CA
My son announced that we needed to come outside and look at the sky. I noticed a man in a van taping the event on his cam corder on the side of the road. We all saw a round llight that was changing directions, and then came to a stop for about 1 minute before taking off at about 2000 miles per hour.
It left an extremly long wiggly trail that the lit up the sky for over a half an hour. The trail was greyish and parts of it was orange , red blue, and then purple.
We thought this was a misle from the base, but they don't dance around they get down to business.
Oh, and there was no noise, but it sure was a traffic stopper.
Thanks for listening.
((NUFORC Note: Missile launch from Vandenberg AFB. Please see article. PD))
((BEGIN ASSOCIATED PRESS ARTICLE ABOUT LAUNCH))
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.
((END ARTICLE BY ASSOCIATED PRESS))