There’s no longer any doubt that thousands of West Coasters witnessed an unarmed missile — and not a comet or an alien craft — streaking across the sky Saturday night.

What remains open to interpretation: Why?

Why test-fire a missile within sight of the nation’s second-largest city, terrifying some and leading thousands more to flood Twitter and Facebook with wild speculation about the glowing craft?

Did the Navy think the test would go largely unnoticed by the public? Did officials underestimate social media’s ability to turn a routine event into front-page fodder?

Or was that the plan all along, using the inevitable influence of social media to flex America’s military might for observers in Beijing and Moscow?

The answer: It’s complicated.

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