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Antares “Cygnus” Re-Entry Puts Up Great UFO Show

Antares “Cygnus” Re-Entry Puts Up Great UFO Show

The WE of May 10th was full of UFO reports in South America. A compact group of strange lights filled the sky and many smartphones got a glimpse at what seemed an alien invasion. Or meteors. Or something else.

It was the Cygnus test module of the recently launched Antares rocket by Orbital Sciences.

Remember? For the first successful launch of the Antares rocket by the Orbital Sciences Corporation, the carrier was also equipped with a test cargo delivery spacecraft called Cygnus, planned to take supplies to the space station. For the first test flight on Apr. 17, Antares carried a dummy payload with the same mass as a Cygnus to test out the rocket systems.

Antares put the Cygnus dummy into a low orbit. At that altitude the atmosphere is thin, but it’s there. Over time, drag affected the satellite, lowering its orbit, dropping it into thicker air, slowing and dropping it more. On Thursday night local time (Friday morning, May 10 at about 01:00 UTC), the Cygnus dummy payload dropped down enough to experience re-entry. As it slammed through the atmosphere at several thousand kilometers per hour it compressed the air in front of it, heating it up. The pressure and heat disintegrated the structure, and it fell apart, blazing across the sky.

Video initially posted by raulshb from Chile
Info from Bad Astronomy.

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