CBS station KFMB put in calls to the Navy and Air Force Monday night about the striking launch off the coast of Los Angeles, which was easily visible from the coast, but the military has said nothing about the launch.
KFMB showed video of the apparent missile to former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Robert Ellsworth, who is also a former Deputy Secretary of Defense, to get his thoughts.
Scroll down for KFMB video showing the launch.
"It's spectacular… It takes people's breath away," said Ellsworth, calling the projectile, "a big missile".
Magnificent images were captured by the KCBS news helicopter in L.A. around sunset Monday evening. The location of the missile was about 35 miles out to sea, west of L.A. and north of Catalina Island.
A Navy spokesperson told KFMB it wasn't their missile. He said there was no Navy activity reported in the area Monday evening.
On Friday night, Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California, launched a Delta II rocket, carrying an Italian satellite into orbit, but a sergeant at the base told KFMB there had been no launches since then.
Ellsworth urged American to wait for definitive answers to come from the military.
When asked, however, what he thought it might be, the former ambassador said it could possibly have been a missile test timed as a demonstration of American military might as President Obama tours Asia.
"It could be a test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile from a submarine … to demonstrate, mainly to Asia, that we can do that," speculated Ellsworth.
Ellsworth said such tests were carried out in the Atlantic to demonstrate America's power to the Soviets, when there was a Soviet Union, but he doesn't believe an ICBM has previously been tested by the U.S. over the Pacific.
Officially, at least, the projectile remains a mystery missile.