A piece of a SpaceX spacecraft made a dramatic but harmless re-entry over the western United States late Friday (28th of April).
The "trunk" section of a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft broke into shimmering streaks over a swath of states, such as Colorado and Arizona, at about 4:52 a.m. local time.
The "trunk", used to launch the NASA Crew-5 astronaut mission to the International Space Station in October 2022, is an unpressurized cargo hold that supports Crew Dragon during the launch phase, according to SpaceX materials. The trunk powers Dragon during flight or docking operations.
The American Meteor Society tracked at least 36 reports of the fireball in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. Several of the space junk reports included images or video, including one spotted at Denver International Airport in a brilliant video by observer Scott Davis.
Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer and astrophysicist at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who tracks re-entry events, confirmed it was a SpaceX trunk that was jettisoned from Crew Dragon on March 12 during that mission's successful splashdown. "The reentry breakup was widely seen," he wrote on Twitter
SpaceX also confirmed the hardware was from the Crew Dragon in a statement to CBS KKTV 11, which is based in Colorado Springs.
"Overnight, the 18th Space Defense Squadron confirmed re-entry of SpaceX’s Crew-5 Dragon trunk occurred on Thursday, April 27," part of the SpaceX statement read.
"NASA and SpaceX are committed to safe commercial crew operations and are working closely to improve orbital hardware demise modelling," officials added.
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