Reports suggest that a part of a Falcon 9 rocket safely broke down over Mexico after falling through the Earth’s atmosphere. The incident occurred five years after the SpaceX rocket had sent a satellite to space. In March 2017, this spacecraft had helped launch the EchoStar 23 mission. A video of the disintegrating rocket was tweeted by Frontera Espacial (@FronteraSpacial) on February 6. The re-entry was confirmed by the Aerospace Corporation as well.
Though several posts suggested that it was a meteorite that fell through the atmosphere, technically the collapsing part of the rocket is far from being a meteorite. A meteorite is a space rock that makes it all the way through the planet’s atmosphere and lands on the ground.
In this case, the rocket stage completely disintegrated in the higher strata of Earth’s atmosphere, according to Frontera Espacial. So, it didn’t reach the ground as meteorites do.
The tweet read (translated), “Tonight a ‘meteorite’ has been seen falling over northern Mexico. It was actually the second stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 launched in March 2017 with the EchoStar23 mission. It has completely disintegrated in the atmosphere.”
???? FALCON 9 DE SPACEX CAE SOBRE MÉXICO ????????
Esta noche se ha visto un “#Meteorito” cayendo sobre el norte de México.
???? En realidad era la segunda etapa de un Falcon 9 de SpaceX lanzado en marzo del 2017 con la misión EchoStar23.
Se ha desintegrado en la atmósfera completamente. pic.twitter.com/5ERaFTMBJ2
— Frontera Espacial (@FronteraSpacial) February 6, 2022
Neither SpaceX nor its founder Elon Musk has commented on the disintegration of the Falcon 9 second stage. This could be because it is normal for rocket stages to fall through Earth’s atmosphere and burn up entirely before reaching Earth’s surface.
The Aerospace Corporation has confirmed the re-entry of Falcon 9’s upper stage into Earth’s atmosphere on their website.
The EchoStar 23 satellite was released at almost 22,300 miles above Earth. The satellite was launched to a geostationary transfer orbit around Earth. Initially, it was targeted to reach an orbital position above the equator at 45 degrees west longitude. Its purpose was to provide broadcast, Internet, and other communications services to Brazil.