On the night between March 25 and 26, 2021, the citizens of Seattle and the state of Washington looked at the sky with wonder at what seemed to be a meteor shower.
Just saw an amazing meteor over Seattle. Anybody else see it? pic.twitter.com/F6bZXqcaQW
— Cameron Stokes (@clstokes) March 26, 2021
After receiving many calls from enthusiastic onlookers, the National Weather Service of Seattle explained that the phenomenon was most likely due to the reentry of the upper stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
While we await further confirmation on the details, here’s the unofficial information we have so far. The widely reported bright objects in the sky were the debris from a Falcon 9 rocket 2nd stage that did not successfully have a deorbit burn.
— NWS Seattle (@NWSSeattle) March 26, 2021
The rocket was launched on March 4, 2021, to deploy 60 Starlink satellites. Usually, SpaceX’s rocket stages are controlled to crash over the Pacific Ocean. However, due to an unspecified malfunction, the engine of the rocket stage could not be ignited again and has been orbiting the Earth since then. The Weather Service reassured local inhabitants, saying that most debris should burn up and not reach the ground.
The Starlink internet constellation is going to consist of almost 1,500 satellites. Its goal is to provide access to high-speed Internet anywhere in the world. The first test batch was put into orbit in early 2018. Since the beginning of 2020 SpaceX has been launching 1 or 2 batches, 60 satellites each, every month on average.