The Sift Here’s what we’re Sifting today

Russian missile test explodes

by Harvest Prude
Posted 8/12/19, 11:54 am

Russia on Monday held funerals for five nuclear engineers killed during a failed missile test last week. The explosion Thursday on an offshore Russian testing facility in the White Sea killed at least seven people and injured several others. It also caused a spike in nuclear radiation in the nearby port city of Severodvinsk, according to local authorities.

How did the accident happen? The fuel from the missile caught fire and exploded, throwing several people into the sea. Russian officials originally reported only two deaths and have released additional information slowly. U.S. officials suspect Russia was testing a prototype of the SSC-X-9 Skyfall, a cruise missile powered by a small nuclear reactor, according to The New York Times. Russian President Vladimir Putin first introduced the weapon in an animated video during his 2018 state of the nation address. Unlike intercontinental ballistic missile warheads in space, nuclear-powered cruise missiles would follow unpredictable paths at lower altitudes, making them more difficult to intercept.

Dig deeper: While this accident is not as significant as the 1986 explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor that killed thousands, Russia’s reticence shows that in some ways, little has changed in the past 33 years. Read Megan Basham’s review of HBO’s miniseries on the Chernobyl disaster.

Read more from The Sift Sign up for The Sift email
Harvest Prude

Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.

Read more from this writer