“What the hell is that?” People from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, Washington, asked themselves in amazement.
There had been no rocket launch immediately before. That caused additional irritation. “I am frozen in awe,” tweeted reporter Genevieve Reaume. “I’ve never seen anything so incredible in my life.”
Others even feared an attack by the Martians – or the end of the world in some other way.
Scientists finally provided the explanation: Giga entrepreneur Elon Musk (49) was to blame for the mega fireworks.
Its company Space X had (again) fired a group of Starlink satellites into space on March 4th. The second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket was not burned as intended, said astronomer Jonathan McDowell, among others.
Space debris then buzzed around our planet for 22 days before it burned up again last night at an altitude of around 60 kilometers (and thus well above the cruising altitude of passenger planes).
That was expected. Where and when exactly it would happen, however, remained unclear due to difficult to predict weather conditions in the higher atmosphere hundreds of kilometers above the earth’s surface. According to McDowell, the models showed an uncertainty of about five hours for the point in time – due to the insane speed of the space junk (about 27,000 km / h), an enormous area for the re-entry spectacle was also an option.
“Another fun fact,” tweeted astronomer McDowell. “This is the 14th piece of space junk weighing more than a ton that came down this year.”