A bright light was seen flying across the sky over California and Nevada on Tuesday evening, startling residents who initially thought it was some kind of meteor shower.
The 10-minute fireball was actually debris from a Russian rocket, which travelled through the sky at 6.00 pm PST.
Witnesses took to social media describing what they thought was a comet with a long tail, with some saying they believed the Russian rocket to be a UFO.
Sightings were reported from Indio, Death Valley, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Corona, Irvine and Las Vegas before it fizzled out over Arizona.
NASA reportedly received so many calls about the mysterious fireball that the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the North American Aerospace Defense Command decided to investigate.
Late Tuesday evening, the US Strategic Command of the Department of Defense announced that they had determined that it was a Russian SL-4 rocket body:
“US Strategic Command’s Joint Functional Component Command for Space (JFCC Space), through the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC), removed a Russian SL-4 rocket body from the US satellite catalog as a decayed object after it reentered the atmosphere today over North America (vicinity Arizona) at approximately 1908 MST…Additional questions about the rocket body should be directed to Russian authorities, particularly Roscosmos (Russian Federal Space Agency).”
It turned out to be the Russian Soyuz rocket that launched Monday, carrying the Progress spacecraft to the International Space Station.