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News / Clark County News

Dazzling sky show over Pacific Northwest was SpaceX rocket booster falling out of orbit

Display seen throughout Pacific Northwest, prompting calls to authorities, excited social media posts

By Mark Bowder, Columbian Metro Editor
Published: March 25, 2021, 9:50pm

A SpaceX rocket booster falling out of orbit made for a spectacular display over much of the Pacific Northwest on Thursday night, prompting calls to authorities and excited posts to social media.

A second stage from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket had failed to make its deorbit burn earlier this month and burned up in the atmosphere at about 9 p.m., according to reports.

“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,” the National Weather Service in Seattle wrote on Twitter.

The website for the American Meteor Society received 43 witness reports about the event, according to its website, which showed the doomed booster passed over the Pacific Northwest from the southwest to the northeast. Reports to the website came in from Medford, Ore., to Vancouver, B.C., with one sighting in the northeast Washington community of Rice.

The disintegrating rocket part split into numerous pieces as it fell into the night sky, prompting reports of airplane crashes or meteor strikes.

The spectacle was visible as far north as Seattle and as far west as Cannon Beach in Oregon, according to posts on social media.

The Columbian received several photos and videos of the spectacle taken from Woodland and from near Washington State University Vancouver.

The National Weather Service in Portland reported on its social media channel that it had received numerous calls about the display and while it could not confirm that it was in deed the Falcon 9 second stage said it seemed possible.

There was no comment on the spectacle from SpaceX on its Twitter feed.

Columbian Metro Editor