Army missile streaks across early morning sky, visible for miles; video

ST. GEORGE — An early morning missile test from an old military depot in western New Mexico startled some early morning sky-viewers Thursday, including several in Southern Utah.

The unarmed Juno target missile was launched just before 7 a.m. The purpose of the launch, a news release from the U.S. Army said, was to test a new Patriot intercept missile.

See video footage: Click play-arrow above

A rocket launch from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico is visible in the early morning sky over Zion National Park, Utah, December 10, 2015 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
A rocket launch from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico is visible in the early morning sky over Zion National Park, Utah, December 10, 2015 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

The target missile was aimed at White Sands Missile Range in Las Cruces, New Mexico, about 215 miles away from the launch site. En route, the missile dropped a booster into a safety zone on private and national forest land near Datil, New Mexico.

White Sands range spokesman Luciano Vera said one of the two Patriot intercept missiles successfully destroyed the Juno missile over the range. The second Patriot self-destructed after the first missile hit the target.

The launch created a corkscrew-shaped contrail pattern in the morning sky that was visible for almost 250 miles. The unusual lights in the sky attracted attention from as far away as Phoenix, Arizona.

The White Sands Missile Range has been the home to 14 similar target missions since 1997. The last mission was in September 2012.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

 

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