Earth Matters

The Russian Missile Contrail You May Have Missed During the Shutdown

October 17th, 2013 by Adam Voiland

While most of NASA went dark during the government shutdown, life went on at the International Space Station. Throughout October, astronauts Karen Nyberg, Mike Hopkins, and Luca Parmitano sent a steady stream of tweets back to Earth. The most eye-popping of the bunch came from Hopkins, who tweeted this on October 10, 2013: “Saw something launch into space today. Not sure what it was, but the cloud it left behind was pretty amazing.”

It turns out it was a Russian missile launch, according to bloggers at the Russian Nuclear Forces Project. The group noted: “The Strategic Rocket Forces carried out a successful test launch of a Topol/SS-25 missile on October 10, 2013. The missile was launched at 17:39 MSK (13:39 UTC) from Kapustin Yar to the Sary Shagan test site in Kazakhstan. According to a representative of the Rocket Forces, the test was used to confirm characteristics of the Topol missile, to test the systems of the Sary Shagan test site, and ‘to test new combat payload for intercontinental ballistic missiles.’ ”

Hopkins’ colleague, European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, also captured the remarkable shot below, which shows the missile’s contrail being yanked back and forth by winds at different levels of the atmosphere.  Discovery News, University Today, and Fox News have more coverage.


7 Responses to “The Russian Missile Contrail You May Have Missed During the Shutdown”

  1. Steven Aikenhead says:

    Another example of the source of Noctillucent Cloud phenomena ??

  2. kapil dev sindhu says:

    A perfect capture of Contrail…. What’s duration of the presence of the contrail in the atmosphere?

  3. ac says:

    Russia is launching missles into space “to test new combat payload for intercontinental ballistic missiles.”

    Why is earth run by its dumbest inhabitants?

    • Irony says:

      Do you understand how intercontinental ballistic missiles work? They didn’t say anything about firing it into space. They merely said it was a test launch.

  4. Mark says:

    How close to the ISS did this get?

  5. Myluit says:

    So awesome capture…!

  6. GHynson says:

    Did the Russians not get the memo?
    The cold war is over.