Mysterious lights from what people across the United States believed was either a meteor shower or something straight from a sci-fi movie streaked across the night sky late Wednesday night.
Soon thereafter, social media was flooded with videos of the incident.
However, Utah NASA Ambassador Patrick Wiggins has confirmed that the mysterious object was a “rocket body,” or a “rocket booster” belonging to a Chinese spacecraft. Satview, which monitors the movements of satellites, said the “space junk” from China’s CZ-7 R/B could re-enter the atmosphere of Earth in the early hours of Thursday morning.
According to CBS Local, U.S. Strategic Command spokeswoman Julie Ziegenhorn said the rocket made re-entrance into the atmosphere when witnesses from Nevada, Utah and California began flooding social media with videos of the object streaking across the sky.
Several people made calls to police dispatch and news outlets to report the meteor shower; others, though, said the event could have been straight out of a sci-fi movie.
Wiggins said China’s rocket was launched from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center as part of a “technology demonstration mission.” The launch center is located in Wenchang, Hainan, China. Although much of it should burn when it re-enters, a few pieces could reach the land.
The CZ-7 is China’s new-generation medium-lift orbital launch vehicle. Developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, it will principally be used to circle the Tianzhou cargo vehicle for the Tiangong-2 program, as reported by NASASpaceflight.com.
In the future, the rocket will be used to substitute the hypergolic launchers of the LM-2, LM-3 and LM-4 rockets. It operates on YF-100, the first stage using two engines and strap-on boosters using a single engine each, and YF-115 driven second stage using four engines.
The basic configuration of the rocket includes a two-stage launch vehicle, which also has four strap-on boosters. Having a gross mass of 597,000 kg, the total length of the rocket is 53 meters, has a diameter of 3.35 meters and a span of 10.05 meters.
As reported by FOX 13, several people posted videos of the incident on social media.