Fireball in Sky Was Russian Space Junk

The mysterious fireball seen Tuesday night from Mexico to Las Vegas was a Russian SL-4 rocket body burning up as it returned to the atmosphere.
Paul Wellman

The fireball that flashed across Santa Barbara skies Tuesday night around 6:08 p.m. was a Russian SL-4 rocket body burning up as it reentered the atmosphere, said Maj. Matthew Miller with the U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Space Operations Center, which tracks international space missions for domestic safety.

The booster, launched Monday in Russia, could be seen from Mexico to Las Vegas as it fell back to Earth. No details were immediately available about the rocket’s mission, though U.S. officials have stated the type is often used by Russia to launch satellites and other spacecraft.


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