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How Mysterious Lights in Night Sky Over California Linked to Chinese Space Race

Chinese Space Debris Linked to Mysterious Lights Over California
Source: Unsplash

UFOs or meteors in the California sky? No, just Chinese space debris, experts say.

Apr. 9 2024, Published 9:11 a.m. ET

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Residents in California were perplexed when they saw a series of mysterious light streaks in the night sky recently, but experts say they weren’t UFOs, meteors or Starlink satellites.

According to KSBW, residents reported seeing what looked like debris or meteors falling from the sky around 1:45 a.m. on April 2.

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These mysterious light streaks were seen in Sand City, Carmel and Salinas, experts said. There were even reports of them being seen as far down south as Los Angeles.

While many residents thought they were seeing UFOs in the sky, the flames through the sky appeared to be an orbital module from China’s Shenzhou 15 astronaut mission, reported.

Many took to social media looking for answers, with speculations that it was a possible meteor or comet. Others thought it could be debris from the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that recently took off from Vandenberg Space Force Base. reported, “The burning debris couldn't have been the Falcon 9's first stage; that piece of hardware lands safely after launch and is reused. But the workhorse rocket's upper stage is disposable.”

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The Shenzhou 15 mission launched in November 2022 and according to log tracking, the Chinese module was expected to return to Earth’s atmosphere around the same time the lights were seen in the Los Angeles area.

Shenzhou 15 transported three astronauts to the Tiangong space station, and the 3,300-pound orbital module was used to give the space-goers extra room to conduct their science experiments.

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Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist and satellite tracker, confirmed that the streaks of light appeared to be the orbital module of China's Shenzhou 15 spacecraft falling back to earth.

Experts say the module was not designed to return to Earth with the Shenzhou reentry module, and remained in orbit until its overnight reentry.


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