Sky illuminated by mysterious ‘space debris’ following rocket launch

There were numerous witnesses.
  • South California sky watchers were left wondering what they’d seen last Tuesday
  • Locals reported seeing golden streaks in the sky that morning
  • It was first thought to be debris from a SpaceX launch just six hours earlier

Published on Apr 5, 2024 at 3:10PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Apr 5, 2024 at 3:10PM (UTC+4)

Edited by Tom Wood
space debris following SpaceX rocket launch

Exploding space debris resulting from a rocket lit up the sky and left southern California sky watchers wondering what they’d just encountered.

Locals reported seeing golden streaks in the sky on the morning of Tuesday, 2 April.

Viewers were heard asking: “Dude, what was that?”


READ MORE! Flight crew member accidentally catches ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ Falcon 9 liftoff

Several videos of the event were later posted to social media, with some witnesses calling local radio stations to report what they’d seen and ask for answers.

At first, many assumed that what they’d seen was a meteor shower or comet or even a misfire by SpaceX launch.

Sightings happened around six hours after the launch of a SpaceX rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base at 7:30 pm on April 1.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was loaded with 22 Starlink satellites when it entered low-Earth orbit.

It wouldn’t be the first time SpaceX has lit up the sky, as the SpaceX droneship captured an exquisite view of the Falcon 9 rocket’s launch and landing.

Its return to Earth was also previously captured in a magical display.

However, analysts now believe it was a Chinese rocket that was seen putting on a display as it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere.

As more and more missions take to space, the resulting junk showers are becoming increasingly common.

The Aerospace Corporation, a US-funded non-profit, used tracking data from the USSF 18th Space Defense Squadron to identify the object.

It was estimated to have a mass of roughly 1,500kg (3,300lbs).

“Our analysis suggests that the object seen re-entering over Los Angeles this morning was the orbital module from the November 2022 Chinese Shenzhou-15 launch to their space station,” they said in a statement.

“I’m hoping all of it burnt out in the upper atmosphere,” University of Southern California space relations expert, Madhu Thangavelu, told the BBC.

He also explained that as the global space community expands, there must be increased accountability and responsibility taken for space debris.

This is already a hot topic in the field of aviation with airline pilots’ UFO sightings demystified as a case of mistaken identity.

Thangavelu believes some of the debris landed in the Pacific.

Fortunately, there were no reports of the space debris crashing on land.

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