Incredible Footage Shows SpaceX Rocket Breaking Apart In Sky

by : Emily Brown on : 26 Mar 2021 14:08
Incredible Footage Shows SpaceX Rocket Breaking Apart In SkyArcMaster/Reddit

Incredible footage captured by onlookers shows the night sky alight with what’s believed to be debris from a SpaceX rocket that broke apart. 

While many people might have liked to believe it was aliens streaking above the Pacific Northwest on Thursday, March 25, experts have said Elon Musk’s space company was actually behind the firework-like display.


Footage shared online showed a stream of lights cascading from the sky, with witnesses describing the scene as ‘beautiful’, though the sight prompted confusion from some, who contacted the Portland office of the National Weather Service (NWS) for an explanation.

Check out a video of the rocket below:

In two posts shared on Twitter, the Portland NWS said that it had received ‘a number of calls’ about the lights, and noted that while staff were ‘not the officials on this type of event’, the explanation they belonged to a broken rocket ‘fit the bill’.


The NWS cited a post from Harvard University astronomer Jonathan McDowell, which explained the sight was part of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that had launched on March 4.

McDowell wrote that the rocket ‘failed to make a deorbit burn and is now reentering after 22 days in orbit’, adding that its re-entry was ‘observed from the Seattle area at about 0400 UTC Mar 26’. He said the falling debris was ‘unlikely to be major’, and predicted that it would most likely fall in the Rocky Mountains near the Canadian border.

The astronomer went on to educate his followers with ‘some fun facts about space debris reentries’, explaining how breakups such as the one spotted last night happen ‘about 60km (40 miles) up, far above where airplanes fly,’ and that the debris was travelling at ‘17000 mph’.


He added that the falling SpaceX debris was the ’14th piece of space junk with a mass over one tonne that has reentered since Jan 1st this year’, equating to roughly one a week, ‘plus lots more smaller bits of course’.

Neither Musk nor the official SpaceX Twitter account has commented on the apparent re-entry of the rocket, though Twitter users suspected Musk’s involvement as one wrote: ‘Ummm… just caught this flying over my home in SW Portland. @elonmusk Your rocket?’


Another onlooker wrote: ‘An Alien Invasion? No just #SpaceX #Falcon9 rocket breakup over #Portland.’

Falcon 9 rockets have long been used to carry cargo and satellites into space, and it was the rocket of choice for SpaceX when it became the first private company to launch astronauts into orbit.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Science, Elon Musk, Now, Oregon, portland, Rocket, seattle, Space, SpaceX


ArcMaster/Reddit and 1 other
  1. ArcMaster/Reddit


  2. Jonathan McDowell/Twitter