SpaceX de-orbit burn witnessed over Europe

SpaceX de-orbit burn: Map of western Europe and the UK, with observer locations of the de-orbit burn indicated.
The map above displays the locations of witnesses who reported seeing the April 21, 2022, de-orbit burn of a SpaceX rocket, over Europe. Image via American Meteor Society/ International Meteor Organization.

SpaceX de-orbit burn

Observers in Europe witnessed the second stage de-orbit burn from a SpaceX rocket on the evening of April 21, 2022. It created quite a stir to the early evening European stargazers, as most were caught by surprise of this event. The Falcon 9 rocket launched from the Kennedy Space Center at 1:51 EDT carrying 53 new Starlink satellites. The de-orbit of the second stage occurred two hours after launch when the rocket booster was orbiting over Europe.

At this writing (2 a.m. central on April 22, 2022), the International Meteor Organization has received 24 reports of the event with these witnesses believing they had witnessed a fireball, a very bright but natural meteor.

Witnesses also provided several interesting videos and photographs of the resulting plume created by the rocket exhaust.

Did you see it? Report it to the AMS/IMO.

Bottom line: Skywatchers in Europe thought they saw a fireball – but it was the de-orbit burn of a SpaceX rocket – in the early evening of April 21, 2022.

April 22, 2022

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Robert Lunsford

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