SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A bright object seen flying across the night sky above several states Tuesday night caused a stir on social media, but was later determined to be a piece of a Russian rocket.
CBS13 began getting calls in the newsroom about the light around 6 p.m. Tuesday, and soon after dozens of people across the west coast began posting video and photos of the bright light, wondering what it was.
Many described it as a “fireball” streaking across the sky with debris falling from it as it traveled.
The object is a stage of the Russian Soyuz rocket that launched Monday, carrying the Progress spacecraft to the International Space Station. According to Aerospace.org, the piece was estimated to fall back to earth at 5:48 UTC, which is 9:48 p.m. Pacific time.
U.S. Strategic Command spokesperson Julie Ziegemhorn issued this statement:
“U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Functional Component Command for Space (JFCC Space), through the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC), removed a Russian SL-4 rocket body from the U.S. satellite catalog as a decayed object after it reentered the atmosphere today over North America (vicinity Arizona) at approximately 1908 MST…Additional questions about the rocket body should be directed to Russian authorities, particularly Roscosmos (Russian Federal Space Agency).”
Below is some of the better footage of the object being shared on social media.