Well, i didn't get many nibbles last time, but with the 40th anniversary of the Kecksburg Event coming up so quickly, I decided to lay the whole
thing out out, replies and/or constructive criticism notwithstanding. So far, this is still only theory; the story is incomplete and probably wildly
inaccurate in the details. Still, enjoy.
Vandenberg Air Force Base, December 9, 1965. It's just after one o'clock on a peaceful winter afternoon. A Thor-Agena missile sits near the beach
on a launch pad known only as 75-3-5. Suddenly, a terrible roar tears through the quiet and on a tail of fire and smoke the missile rises, carrying a
top-secret surveillance satellite skyward.
The Thor is accompanied by a number of smaller missiles, sounding rockets, whose avowed purpose is to gather meteorological data pertaining to the
launch. They have another mission, unhidden but somewhat less publicized: to confuse any foreign observers who may be cruising the coastal waters,
especially those with radar equiped "fishing" boats. The sounding rockets have yet another purpose, one which is considered top-secret: to help
hide the OTHER missile which is rising from another launch site just a mile inland.
This other missile lifts into the sky unnoticed, the thunder of its passing mingling with the scream of the Thor. It is a Titan II, its own flame
almost invisible against the open blue sky and it leaves behind no billowing smoke trail to betray its path. Many local residents of nearby Lompoc and
Santa Maria turn and look up into the early afternoon sun, shielding their eyes from the glare, to watch these mighty sisters take flight. But all
eyes are focused on the bright star which is the Thor; most never notice the Titan at all, and those that do will puzzle for a moment, then consider
it, perhaps, a mirage, a mere reflection.
As the Thor arcs southward toward the Channel Islands and Baja, the Titan rises near-vertical, then turns eastward over California's high desert.
Just over a minute and a half into the flight and around fifty miles downrange the first stage booster falls away, its momentum carring it back to
earth some 200 miles from the launch point, into the junkyard known as China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, where tactical missles are tested and
drones are shot from the sky almost daily and an extra piece of metallic debris will not be noticed.
The second stage throttles down to silence about two minutes later. Under other circumstances the second stage and warhead would now be travelling
upward about twenty degrees above horizontal, but on this day they leave the atmosphere at a steepeer angle, closer to 50 degrees: this flight is to
be shorter than the 9000 nautical miles the Titan is designed to cover. Since the second stage is shut down early nearly half of its fuel is left
For over twenty minutes the upper half of the Titan coasts. During this time the second stage is supposed separate from its payload, and, using its
own manuevering thrusters, move away from the warhead it carries, turning to align itself so that during reentry it will burn up completely. But
something is wrong, very wrong.
The payload has failed to separate from the booster. Now, 30 minutes into the flight, the upper stage and warhead enter the atmosphere together north
of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Within seconds the strain of reentry ruptures the booster's fuel and oxydizer tanks, and as the missile nears Toledo, Ohio,
a tremendous explosion rips it apart. What's left of the booster is blown to the northeast; the more massive warhead is deflected less from its
original path but still it misses its target by a few hundred miles, gliding slightly south of east toward the mountains of southwestern
It's late and I have to work for a living. Next: a fresh look at the Great Lakes Fireball of December 9, 1965, and the events at Kecksburg
from a new perspective.