Eight Explanations for the Mystery California Missile Launch [Updated]

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Photo: CBS News

A California CBS affiliate captured video of what appears to be a missile launching into the atmosphere off the coast of Los Angeles last night. No big deal; the military was probably just testing one of its new toys or something. Or not.


The Defense Department said Tuesday it wasn't responsible for the mysterious "missile" that streaked across the sky off the Southern California coast Monday night and said it had no clue who could have launched it ....

The Defense Department stressed that it didn't appear to be a military missile and said it wasn't alarmed. But a spokesman acknowledged that the Pentagon still had no idea who launched the missile.

A rogue missile launch isn't alarming? What does it take to get the Defense Department alarmed these days?

In fairness, while we can think of plenty of alarming explanations for the launch, there are also some that aren't so alarming after all. Here are all the possibilities we could come up with, in ascending order of alarmingness:

• The military is just covering up its own missile launch. Maybe it was testing a secret missile and it didn't think anyone was watching.

• A dejected Meg Whitman decided to leave Earth behind after spending $141 million of her fortune on a losing gubernatorial run, and set off to live out the rest of her days hurtling through space aboard her personal spacecraft, alone.

• The launch was part of a guerrilla marketing campaign for NBC's The Event or some other show.

• The military launched the missile by accident, it landed harmlessly in the ocean, and now they're just too embarrassed to fess up.

• The military launched the missile by accident, it decimated a small, sparsely inhabited island in the South Pacific, and now they're just too embarrassed to fess up.

• Chinese hackers launched the missile as a message to President Obama as he continues to criticize China's currency-manipulation practices. Then they laughed maniacally about their dominance over America.

• A traitorous general meant to destroy Los Angeles with the missile, but mistakenly aimed it in the wrong direction.

• The missile-launch system became self-aware, and this is the beginning of the machine takeover. All of our computers are about to turn on us, attacking us with weapons, shutting off traffic lights, and making debilitating changes to our fantasy-football lineups.

Mystery Missile Launch Seen off Calif. Coast [CBS News]
California missile launch remains a mystery [MSNBC]

Update: A bunch of people think it was just a plane.