Failed Russian missile visible over Northern Norway

Light seen from Kvænangen in Troms at 07.49 Wednesday morning (Photo Dagfinn Rapp)

UPDATED: This unique photo taken in Northern Norway shows a Russian intercontinental missile flying into a spiral before it exploded in the atmosphare early Wednesday morning. The missile was most likely yet another failed test launch of a Bulava missile from the Typhoon submarine “Dmitri Donskoy” in the White Sea area.


The giant spiral shaped light that could be seen in the eastern sky for several minutes on Wednesday morning was probably caused by a failed missile launch from the White Sea, several Norwegian space and defense experts believe.

Interviewed by the Norwegian TV2, an anonymous Russian military source says it was failed launch of a Bulava missile from a submarine in the White Sea Wednesday morning.

Researcher at the Tromsø Geophysical Observatory Truls Lynne Hansen is certain that the light was caused by a missile launch:

- The missile has probably come out of control and exploded. The peculiar spiral shaped light pattern comes from reflection of the sun in the leaking fuel, he said to Aftenposten.

Spokesman in the Norwegian Defense Jon Espen Lien says that the Norwegian Defense does not know for sure what the light was, but that it probably was a Russian missile:

- It is quite normal that Russia uses the White Sea and the Barents Sea as testing grounds for weapons.

The failed missile launch that was visible over large areas in Northern Norway are now making headlines world-wide. The Russian TV-internet site Russia Today had a news storry late Wednesday evening under the headline “UFO-show in Norway sky welcomes Obama for Nobel Prize ceremony.”

According to NRK, Arkhangelsk Radio sent out an advance warning about several missile launches from the White Sea in the period December 7-10.The warning included launches on the night to Wednesday. An anonymous source in the Northern Fleet told Norwegian news paper VG that they had no information about the incident. Press Attaché at Russia’s Embassy in Oslo Vladimir Isupov did neither have any that could explain the light phenomenon over Northern Norway.

On the morning of November 1, another strange light phenomenon was visible in the sky from large areas of the northern parts of Norway. This incident also caused commotion and many creative explanations to the light were given on different discussion boards. The light was caused by a launch of a Sineva missile from the nuclear submarine “Bryansk” in White Sea, as reported by BarentsObserver.

According to a warning about rocket launching in the White Sea, navigation is prohibited in the southern parts of the sea until December 15.

The Bulava missile test Wednesday morning has been rescheduled several times. Last Bulava test from the submarine “Dmitri Donskoy” was on July 15. That test failed and the missile self-destructed soon after launch due to a defective steering system in its first stage. Next test -launch was slated  for November 24, as reported by BarentsObserver, but was then postponded. 

- Because of the need for coordination of several questions – including technical questions, between the producers and the Russian Ministry of Defence, the test-launch will only be conducted at the end of the year, a source told RIA Novosti. The test was then re-scheduled to the end of December. But then, the test took place on Wednesday December 9th.

With the population of Northern Norway as eyewitnesses, Wednesday’s test was the seventh failed launch out of 13.

The Bulava missile is designed for the “Borei” class submarines, the fourth generation nuclear subs, the first of which are now being tested in Severodvinsk, Arkhangelsk Oblast. The vessel “Yury Dolgoruky” will be the flagship in the Russian submarine fleet. Another two vessels of the kind is under construction in the yard.