Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 94° Partly Cloudy
News >  Pacific NW

SpaceX rocket debris lights up Washington sky Thursday night

UPDATED: Fri., March 26, 2021

From staff reports

From staff reports

If you were stargazing last night, you might have seen something truly bizarre.

People in Washington or Oregon who looked up at the sky at around 9 p.m. were treated to what looked like a flock of comets soaring through the night.

Debris from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, tumbling back to Earth, caused the display. The rocket launched about three weeks ago in Florida and delivered 60 satellites into low orbit.

Rocket debris is usually harmless, burning up as it reenters the Earth’s atmosphere. The Falcon 9 debris was about 40 miles high when it soared over the Pacific Northwest.

Falcon 9 can put satellites into orbit and deliver goods and astronauts to the International Space Station. It’s a two-stage rocket. That means it’s made of two pieces that have to separate so the rocket can get into space.

SpaceX is typically able to guide the second stage – the piece broke apart and burned and images went viral Thursday – so that it falls back into the ocean.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.