WHAT DID LUCA SEE THURSDAY OUT THE ISS WINDOW?
Photo By: Luca Parmitano (Italian Space Agency Astronaut). CLICK photo for full size and see all links below.
No, this is not a scene from a new sci-fi space movie but Thursday while on orbit in the International Space Station astronauts/comonauts got quite a surprise as thousands of miles away a massive vapor cloud expanded above earth’s atmosphere. Thinking quickly, Luca grabbed one of the cameras onboard, snapped a few photos and quickly uploaded them to the internet for all to see not even knowing what was happening at the time. He posted to Twitter: “Saw something launch into space today. Not sure what it was but the cloud it left behind was pretty amazing”.
It didn’t take long to see that the vapor cloud was fuel dump of some sort from a rocket launch. The only problem was, there were no scheduled rocket launches that day…….so where the heck did this come from and what exactly was it doing?
Turns out, a few hours later the Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces posted an update saying that they had successfully carried out a test of an RS-12M Topol Missile at 1339 UTC. Russia Today also posted an article on the launch (See below). It doesn’t appear the astronauts/cosmonauts or the ISS were in any danger as the missile trajectory was much lower than that of the ISS but on the same side of that coin, it created some nervous moments as what turned out to be an intercontinental ballistic missile test was taking place in their vicinity. Hopefully our nations will someday wake up/grow up and find better, more fulfilling and productive ways to successfully influence each other.
In 2009 a similar event took place over Norwegian skies as another Russian ICBM Bulava rocket test left a vast spiral structure in the sky above after being launched from a submarine the missile failed.
The RS-12M Topol missile is a fairly new addition to Russia’s military. This is the first intercontinental ballistic missile to be developed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. ICBMs, are used as nuclear weapon delivery systems, capable of being launched into space and delivering their payloads thousands of miles away. The 52 ton missile has an operational range of 11,000 kilometers (6,800 miles).
Luca Parmitano Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AstronautLucaParmitano?hc_location=stream
Luca Parmitano Twitter: https://twitter.com/astro_luca
ESA Luca Parmitano Bio: http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_Spaceflight/Astronauts/Luca_Parmitano
Russian Forces page for this event: http://russianforces.org/blog/2013/10/topol_launch_from_kapustin_yar_1.shtml
Russia Today page for this event: http://rt.com/news/russia-test-fires-topol-001/