Fireball over western US Tuesday not a meteor

ST. GEORGE — The fireball that streaked through the skies of western America Tuesday night was not a meteor.

Rather, the bright object that was seen from California to Arizona and north to Utah at about 7:15 p.m. MST was a Russian rocket body re-entering the atmosphere.

“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 re-entered the atmosphere today over North America (vicinity Arizona),” United States Strategic Command Deputy Public Affairs Officer Julie Ziegenhorn said.

The American Meteor Society concurred.

“It looks like a Space Junk Reentry,” said Vincent Perlerin, community manager of the organization. “It is possibly SL-4 R/B – NORAD 39033, a rocket body launched on Dec. 2012. ”

Brian Webb, public information officer at Vandenberg Air Force Base chimed in saying it was “most likely the second stage” of the Russian SL-4 rocket.

The AMS has received sighting reports from California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah, as far north as Redding, California, and as far east as Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

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1 Comment

  • knobe December 24, 2015 at 6:51 am

    There is a Lot of man made ‘stuff’ up there now ,
    Would not be surprised if our skies lit up more often with the falling debris .

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