Falling space junk lights up night sky across western U.S.

Posted: 9:00 AM, Jul 28, 2016
Updated: 2016-07-28 09:00:26-04

People across the western United States saw mysterious lights streak across the sky late Wednesday night and lit up social media with videos.

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts  tweeted  that the fireball was debris from a Chinese rocket launched June 25.

McDowell told the  Los Angeles Times  that the rocket reentered over Utah about 9:40 p.m. and was likely traveling about 18,000 mph .

Satview , which tracks satellites, estimates the “space junk” from China’s CZ-7 R/B rocket reentered the atmosphere early Thursday morning.

The rocket was part of a “technology demonstration mission” launched from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in Hainan, China, according to Utah NASA Ambassador Patrick Wiggins .


Officials at the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City and Nevada were also responding to people on Twitter who had seen the majestic lights Wednesday night.

A spokesman for U.S. Strategic Command told the Times said the agency would not provide details of what might have actually happened until Thursday.