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The reentry of a rocket body lit up the northwestern skies of the United States on the night of this Thursday, March 25th. Around 21:00 pm local time (01:00 am on the 26th of Brasília time), residents of the region began to see a series of fire balls crossing the sky, coming from the southwest towards the northeast. As the objects were slow, many managed to get their cell phone and register the phenomenon.

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According to BRAMON, the Brazilian Meteor Observation Network, which analyzed the images, is the second stage of the rocket F da SpaceX launched on March 04 this year, from the Kennedy Space Center in California. This launch took to space the 17th group of 60 satellites of the Starlink Constellation, which should provide satellite internet for all regions of the planet.

Space-X Falcon-9 rocket launching at Kennedy Space Center - Credits: Joel Kowsky / NASA
Space-X Falcon-9 rocket launching at Kennedy Space Center - Credits: Joel Kowsky / NASA

This second stage of Falcon-9 has some parts capable of resisting the re-entry process and can reach the ground and, although the chances are minimal, these parts can cause some damage. For this reason, SpaceX has planned a controlled de-orbit maneuver. It basically consists of activating the engines to stop the rocket in orbit, forcing it to re-enter in a safe place. The plan was to carry out this maneuver 2 and a half hours after takeoff (on the 04th), causing reentry over the Indian Ocean in an area previously calculated and properly evacuated.

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However, the maneuver did not work. Amateur satellite observers realized that the object remained in orbit even after the planned time for reentry. After that, the new orbital parameters were calculated, and the natural reentry of the rocket was expected to occur at 23:07 on the 25th, at Brasília time, over the Pacific Ocean. The forecast was made by Joseph Remis, a specialist in re-entry calculations and had a margin of error of 3 hours.

Re-entry forecast calculated for 23:07 (02:07 universal time) - Credits: Joseph Remis
Re-entry forecast calculated for 23:07 (02:07 universal time) - Credits: Joseph Remis

The re-entry of the second stage of the Falcon-9 rocket ended up taking place at 01:00 am on the 26th (within the margin of error) in the North American West Coast. The hardest parts probably must have fallen near the Canadian border, but so far, there are no reports of damage.

Object passed over the site at exactly the same time as the filming took place - Source: satflare.com
Object passed over the site at exactly the same time as the filming took place - Source: satflare.com

Under international treaties, SpaceX, the owner of the rocket, is responsible for rescuing the debris found and indemnifying residents in the event of possible damage.

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