Friday, December 11, 2009

Oh, those Russians...

When the people of Tromso in Norway's northern reaches awoke to the sight of a giant blue and white spiral of light hanging in the still dark sky above them, they were understandably shocked. It didn't look like the northern lights. Was it a meteor? A UFO?
Calls flooded in to radio stations and air-traffic control towers. Astronomers were baffled. Extra-terrestrial enthusiasts got on their blogs. "It looked like a rocket that spun around and around and then went diagonally across the heavens," said Totto Eriksen, who saw the display while driving his daughter to school. And when an explanation finally came, he wasn't far wrong. It turned out to be a failed Russian nuclear-capable missile test launch.
The new Bulava missile was fired from the nuclear submarine Dmitry Donskoi, the Russian defence ministry confirmed. The White Sea, close to Norway's Arctic region, is Russia's standard missile-testing site. This one failed at the third stage.

The Bulava can carry up to 10 individually targeted nuclear warheads and has a maximum range of 8,000km (5,000 miles). It is the sea-based version of the Topol-M, Russia's land-based intercontinental missile, which entered service in 2006. New Borei submarines were developed primarily to launch it.

See a unique video taken by Jan Peter Jorgensen at