The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft staged a bright light show over the western part of the United States on the evening of April 27. The Dragon service module entered the Earth’s atmosphere and broke up into shimmering bands over the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona.
The service module was used during the NASA Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station in October 2022. This module is used by Crew Dragon in orbit to power the spacecraft during orbital maneuvers and docking. Before landing, the module undocks and continues to orbit the Earth, gradually descending and burning up in the atmosphere.
The American Meteor Society has tracked at least 36 reports of a fireball in the southern United States. Several eyewitnesses photographed and recorded a video of the combustion of the Crew Dragon service module.
Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer and astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, also tracked the event. He confirmed that it was the Crew-5 cargo module undocked from Crew Dragon on March 12 during the successful landing of this mission. SpaceX also confirmed that the lights in the sky were formed from the Crew Dragon service module.
On Mar 12 the @SpaceX Crew-5 Dragon jettisoned its trunk section into a 300 x 410 km orbit. The trunk, object 55840, made an uncontrolled reentry last night at 0852 UTC = 0252 MDT = 0152 MST on a track from Phoenix to Colorado Springs. The reentry breakup was widely seen. pic.twitter.com/I1Ill9TNEP
— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) April 27, 2023
“Overnight, the 18th Space Defense Squadron confirmed re-entry of SpaceX’s Crew-5 Dragon trunk occurred on Thursday, April 27,” SpaceX Media Relations said in a statement.
SpaceX added that if the wreckage of Crew Dragon is found, they should not be touched, but it is necessary to contact the company in order for experts to dispose of them.
Earlier we reported on how a stranger straddled a SpaceX Dragon capsule on the water.
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