Missile Test Lights Up Southwest Pre-Dawn Sky

A successful missile test in the Southwest gave residents a beautiful show early Thursday morning, courtesy of a trio of unarmed missiles that were fired from a New Mexico missile range.

One of the missiles even left a brilliant contrail that changed colors because of the rising sun, reports MSNBC. The formation was visible in southern Colorado, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas just before sunrise on Thursday, leading to calls and emails to area TV stations.

Law enforcement agencies in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado even received reports of a UFO crash, but those reports were discounted. In New Mexico, a sheriff’s deputy saw one of the missiles leaving a contrail behind as it lifted into the sky. He also said he saw what he thought was an explosion and a part falling off of the craft. San Juan County deputy J.J. Roberts stated:

“When I saw it, it surprised the heck out of me, and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s not something you see every day. So I pulled over, pulled out my iPhone and started taking some pictures and video.”

Drew Hamilton, a spokesman for the US Army’s White Sands Missile Range explained that the “explosion” that Roberts saw was a normal separation of the first and second stages of the missile, called a Juno ballistic missile, according to The Durango Herald. It was fired at 6:30 am MT from Fort Wingate near Gallup, New Mexico. The first stage landed where it was supposed to — a designated area of US Forest Service land.

A statement from White Sands Missile Range read, “The Juno performed as expected. It was the 14th time a ballistic target missile has been fired from Fort Wingate since 1998.” The missile isn’t always observed that far away, but it depends on the time of day, as well as atmospheric conditions.

Check out the video below to see the light show caused by the successful missile test in the Southwest: