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Fireball Seen Over Western US Likely Chinese Rocket Debris

International Business Times logo International Business Times 2/25/2015 Luke Villapaz
This Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, ten second time exposure photo provided by Neil Zeller, shows a streak of light from what is believed to be a Chinese rocket burning up upon re-entry, in the atmosphere as seen from Calgary, Canada. © Neil Zeller/AP Photo This Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, ten second time exposure photo provided by Neil Zeller, shows a streak of light from what is believed to be a Chinese rocket burning up upon re-entry, in the atmosphere as seen from Calgary, Canada.

A fireball was seen streaking across the skies above the western U.S. on Monday, leaving some wondering what it was. According to NASA’s Orbital Debris Program Office, the firey object was part of a Chinese rocket that was used to launch a satellite into space.

At least 198 reports of the fireball were submitted to the American Meteor Society from states such as Washington, Montana, Idaho, Nevada and Utah. Several videos were also uploaded to YouTube, many of which identified the streak as a fireball and meteor. But NASA officials identified the object as a rocket body used to launch the Yaogan Weixing-26, a Chinese satellite launched in December 2014, according to KSL.

Meteor Debris © Provided by IBT US Meteor Debris

“I’m virtually certain based on the many calls and emails and all that, it was a piece of re-entering space junk,” Patrick Wiggins, NASA ambassador told KSL.

Those that witnessed the event saw the fireball slowly traveling across the sky at a slow speed while lasting up to 45 seconds, according to the American Meteor Society. A Canadian photographer by the name of Neil Zeller was also able to capture a still of the debris during the event.

Space debris has been a concern of space organizations, including the European Space Agency. In 2013, the agency called for companies to aid in developing solutions to remove and dispose of space debris and dead satellites in orbit. At least 29,000 pieces of space debris over 10 cm long are currently orbiting the Earth, according to the agency.

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