NASA on Wednesday night denied claims by Ukrainian officials that a powerful flash in Kyiv’s skies resulted from one of its satellites falling to Earth.
A NASA official told Al Arabiya English that it had one spacecraft in orbit, and it had still not re-entered Earth’s atmosphere.
“NASA’s retired Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) spacecraft is predicted by the Department of Defense to reenter Earth’s atmosphere at approximately 8:50 pm EDT on Wednesday, April 19 with an uncertainty of +/- 1 hour,” the space agency said in a statement. “No other NASA satellite reentered the atmosphere earlier today.”
Can’t catch a break... First air raid alert in Kyiv in several days went off tonight. The reason? According to authorities, NASA satellite debris fell to earth, passing through the airspace of Ukraine’s capital around 10pm and illuminating the sky. pic.twitter.com/vSlmCoUY5W— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) April 19, 2023
NASA expects most of the spacecraft to burn up as it travels through the atmosphere, but some components are expected to survive reentry. And the risk of harm coming to anyone on Earth is low – approximately 1 in 2,467, according to NASA.
NASA and the Pentagon will continue to monitor reentry and update predictions.
“From 2002 to its decommissioning in 2018, RHESSI helped NASA understand the basic physics of particle acceleration and explosive energy release in solar flares,” NASA said.
Earlier in the day, the head of Kyiv’s military administration Sergiy Popkosaid said that a “bright glow of an aerial object was observed in the sky over Kyiv.” He said that preliminary information suggested it was the result of a NASA space satellite falling to Earth.
An air raid alert was activated, Popko said, but “air defense was not in operation.”
Shortly after, the Ukrainian Air Force also said the flash was “related to the fall of a satellite/meteorite.” It added, though, this was “to be clarified.”