Friday, December 11, 2009

Norway's Mystery Spiral A Mystery No Longer

You've probably seen the video of the bizarre blue spiral that appeared in the nighttime sky above Norway on Wednesday, but just in case you haven't you can watch it below thanks to YouTube:

The mystery of the spiral appears to have been solved. It was not a UFO, or as some wiseguys suggested a Star appearing in the Eastern Sky to herald the arrival of Barrack Obama in Oslo, but something much more mundane: a failed Russian missile test. The Christian Science Monitor went so far as to talk to a real rocket scientist about the Norwegian light show. Dr. William Dimpfl explained that the pinwheel effect was likely caused by a misfiring rocket motor spinning the rocket out of control.

That meshes well with the Russian Defense Ministry's account of the latest test of the submarine-launched Bulava missile, which they say went out of control when its third stage became "unstable". Of course the Russians built the Bulava to be the high-tech, interceptor-dodging next generation of their ICBM forces, not to put on spectacular light shows over Norway. And that's where the troubles start - so far the Bulava has failed in seven of its twelve test launches, one Russian analyst said that only one test flight was a "full success".

Some in the Kremlin say that the Bulava's design itself is flawed and are pushing for the construction of more of an earlier generation, but reliable, missile. Others in the defense ministry are offering the excuse that the Bulava is failing because of poor production quality due to outdated, Soviet-era factories, which is a pretty lousy excuse if you think about it.

No word yet on when the Bulava's next test may be, but the Norwegians will likely be watching the skies when it happens.
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