Dubai: An online video showing a trail of light shooting over Ras Al Khaimah on Saturday night left has left UAE residents with curiosity and awe.
At around 11.05 pm, residents in the northern emirates reported a fireball flying southbound that darted across the night sky, leaving a streak of light in its path.
The incident was caught on camera by an enthusiastic stargazer, and in response to the questions flooding social media, the International Astronomy Centre (IAC) has confirmed that the unidentified flying object was in fact a satellite launched by SpaceX as part of its Starlink mission.
“A bright light was seen in the sky of the UAE on Saturday September 5, 2020 at 11.05 pm, which appeared to be heading from the North to the South. It was a satellite that entered the atmosphere, named Starlink 40, which was launched on May 24, 2019, and is part of a satellite internet network for SpaceX,” said the IAC on its official Twitter account.
Last year, SpaceX launched its first 60 Starlink satellites into orbit – the first chunk of the 12,000 satellite project expected to be completed by 2025 at a cost of $10 billion (Dh36.7 b). The project, according to SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk, aims to provide internet access to several billion people around the world at a low cost.
Ibrahim Al Jarwan, head of Sharjah Planetarium and member of the Arab Union for Space and Astronomy, explained that it is not uncommon to see such types of space objects falling through the atmosphere.
“It is quite common to witness artificial space objects and from time to time, broken pieces of satellites descend also burn in the upper layers of the atmosphere, which account for most of the flying objects seen at night,” said Al Jarwan.
And it looks like countries around the world may soon find more trails of light across the sky after SpaceX launched its latest batch of internet-beaming Starlink satellites on September 3.
The mission is the 12 mission carried out by SpaceX and the first one for this month, which is reported to carry 60 of the company’s own broadband internet satellites to low Earth orbit.