On January 25, 1995, four years after the official collapse of the USSR, the US and Russia plunged into a second temporary Cold War. A team of Norwegian and US scientists launched the Black Brank X11 four-stage rocket from the Andoya Space Centre in Norway. The purpose of the mission was to send scientific equipment to study the Northern Lights, flying on a trajectory that stretched from North Dakota to Moscow.
The rocket eventually reached an altitude of 903 miles, resembling a US Navy submarine-launched Trident missile, putting Russian nuclear forces on high alert of an attack.
As the rocket gained speed, it was detected by the Olenegorsk early-warning radar station in Murmansk Oblast, Russia.
After stage separation, the rocket launch appeared to the Russians to resemble Multiple Reentry Vehicles, as scientists did not realise the launching rocket was heading to sea.
Boris Yeltsin, the Russian President at the time, ordered for the Cheget – the Russian nuclear briefcase – to be brought to his office and requested the nuclear codes necessary…
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