American astronaut Mike Hopkins spotted something very strange from his vantage point on the International Space Station last week — a bright cloud that no doubt got the UFO crowd buzzing, but actually turned out to be something more down to Earth, and a lot more alarming.
Two other sources, one in space and one on the ground, showed the cloud from a different perspective, revealing its Earthly origins as the test launch of a Russian intercontinental ballistic missile.
Hopkins' fellow ISS crew member Luca Parmitano had caught this picture of it, and posted it to his Twitter account the next day:
This video of it from the ground, filmed by YouTube user ZL OI, caught it as it was ascending towards the clouds:
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This isn't the only test launch by the Russians in recent years, of course. There were two back in 2009 that produced interesting cloud formations over Norway and Russia, and according to Russia Today there were tests during the past two years as well — apparently all to extend the service life of their Topol mobile-ICBM system.
Still, it's a little scary, but not because this Russian missile was aimed at any strategic target (because it wasn't). However, it shows that, even now, more than 20 years after the Cold War supposedly ended, we're still 'playing around with toys' that can reduce our civilization to ashes at the turn of a few keys. The threat of nuclear war didn't disappear in 1991, but it would certainly be nice if that's something we could put firmly in our past.
(Photos courtesy ESA/NASA)
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