Was that Santa up there? No, Soyuz rocket debris

December 25, 2011
Russian police officers guard a Soyuz rocket at the Russian leased Kazakh Baikonur cosmodrome. A ball of light streaking across the night sky in northern Europe on Saturday at a time when many imagined that Father Christmas was doing his rounds was nothing more than Soyuz rocket debris, Belgian experts say.

A ball of light streaking across the night sky in northern Europe on Saturday at a time when many imagined that Father Christmas was doing his rounds was nothing more than Soyuz rocket debris, Belgian experts say.

"The ball observed ... above Belgium, The Netherlands, France and Germany was the return of the last stage of the launcher," Belgium's Royal Observatory said Sunday.

Videos nearly 30 seconds long were posted on the Internet showing the ball of light trailing a long tail, seen at dusk Saturday in southern Belgium, northern France and many parts of Germany.

Astronomers concerned with unidentified flying objects at a centre in Mannheim, southwestern Germany, were swamped with telephone calls, and they initially thought it was a meteorite.

The Belgian observatory solved the mystery on Sunday when it linked the sighting to the crash of a Russian satellite on Friday.

The Soyuz-2.1B rocket carrying the satellite crashed into Siberia minutes after its launch due to rocket failure.

On its way down, it apparently created the streak of light seen in the European sky on Saturday.

Also, a fragment of the hit a residential house on a street named after cosmonauts, officials said.

Explore further: Russia's Soyuz: historic symbol of space reliability

Related Stories

Russia's Soyuz: historic symbol of space reliability

August 25, 2011

Russia's Soyuz rocket, which failed to put a Russian supply ship into orbit, is descended from launch vehicles of the early days of the space race but until now has been a byword for reliability.

Russia delays commercial space launches after crash

September 13, 2011

Russia will have to delay the upcoming launch of six US satellites and two commercial European craft due to last month's Soyuz carrier rocket mishap, Russian industry sources said Tuesday.

Russia launches first Soyuz rocket since August crash

October 3, 2011

A Russian Soyuz-2 rocket launched a GLONASS navigation satellite on Sunday, the defence ministry said, in the first launch since a freighter carried by the flagship vehicle crashed into Earth in August.

Russia launches US telecoms satellite into orbit

October 6, 2011

Russian successfully launched a US Intelsat satellite into space late Wednesday, aboard a Zenit carrier rocket from the Baikonur space centre in Kazakhstan, a Russian space agency official said.

Russian satellite crashes into Siberia after launch

December 23, 2011

A Russian satellite on Friday crashed into Siberia minutes after its launch due to rocket failure, the defence ministry said, in the latest humiliating setback for Russia's embattled space programme.

Russian satellite hits Siberia's 'Cosmonaut Street'

December 24, 2011

A fragment of a Russian satellite that crashed into Siberia in the latest setback for Russia's space programme hit a residential house on a street named after cosmonauts, officials said Saturday.

Recommended for you

Dense star clusters shown to be binary black hole factories

July 29, 2015

The coalescence of two black holes—a very violent and exotic event—is one of the most sought-after observations of modern astronomy. But, as these mergers emit no light of any kind, finding such elusive events has been ...

Image: Hubble sees a dying star's final moments

July 31, 2015

A dying star's final moments are captured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The death throes of this star may only last mere moments on a cosmological timescale, but this star's demise is still quite ...

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Blakut
not rated yet Dec 25, 2011
That's a nice photo, btw. Wonder what the blood level in his alcochol is, for that soldier.
Dutchmet
5 / 5 (1) Dec 27, 2011
You are confusing two separate cases in this news item. The reentry observed over Europe was *not* related to Friday's failed Russian satellite launch, but to Wednesday's launch of a new astronaut crew to the ISS.
yyz
not rated yet Dec 27, 2011
The object observed over Europe was ID as the 3rd stage of the Soyuz rocket that recently launched a crew to the ISS: http://sattrackca...age.html

The failed Russian satellite that crashed *in Russia* would have to complete nearly a full orbit to be seen re-entering the skies above Europe, which it clearly didn't.

Some video of the Soyuz 3rd stage re-entry here:

http://blogs.disc...-so-far/
http://blogs.disc...germany/

Must have been quite a sight in the evening sky.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.