Ryan Perry, a spokesman with the Navy’s 3rd Fleet, told the paper that the missile — a Trident II (D5) that could be seen as far away as Arizona and Nevada — was unarmed. He said information about such exercises is classified before the launch begins.
“Each test activity provides valuable information about our systems, thus contributing to assurance in our capabilities,” he said in a statement, according to the Union-Tribune.
The test was conducted in the Pacific Test Range, the Associated Press reported, a large area northwest of Los Angeles that the Navy uses to test-fire Tomahawk and Standard cruise missiles.
The lack of information about the streaking light fired up social media and led countless people to turn their smartphones toward the sky. On Twitter, users created hashtags such as #ufo and #comet as they joked about the light, speculated about its origin and accused the government of a coverup. In addition to posting images and video of the object online, witnesses flooded local law enforcement agencies with phone calls, according to the Associated Press.
“At first, it looked like a gold shooting star,” Matt McKee, who witnessed the light, told CNN. “It went from gold and small, burning for a few minutes and turned into this blue spot light. Like at an event held at night — not like shooting out at us, but a white bright light,” he said.
“The Taurid meteors would be coming from the east — and this light came from the west,” Keating told the Union-Tribune. “We’d also be more likely to see meteors about midnight, and the flash came near sunset.”
The Los Angeles International Airport noted the testing in a statement released earlier last week, according to the AP.
“The military airspace to the west of LAX will be active for one week, creating traffic route limitations and requiring LAX to temporarily deviate from over-ocean operations,” it said.
The military test is set to continue until Nov. 12, according to the AP.