June 5, 2023

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NASA says the flash over Kiev was not its satellite

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Watch: A mysterious white flash lights up the Kiev sky

A mysterious flash lit up the sky of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, sparked much speculation.

Officials in Kiev said they suspected a NASA satellite had fallen to Earth, but the US space agency told the BBC it was still in orbit.

The Ukrainian Air Force indicated that the flash was probably a meteor.

Whatever the case, the air force seemed confident it wasn’t caused by a Russian air attack — an all too familiar occurrence since last year’s invasion.

The bright glow was observed in the sky over the capital around 22:00 (19:00 GMT).

Serhiy Popko, the head of the Kiev military department, said on Telegram that an air raid alert had been activated, but that “the air defense was not on”.

“According to preliminary information, this phenomenon was the result of a NASA space satellite falling to Earth,” Popko said.

The US space agency announced earlier this week that a retired 660-pound (300-kg) satellite will return to the atmosphere on Wednesday.

NASA said the RHESSI spacecraft, which is used to monitor solar flares, was launched into low Earth orbit in 2002 and was decommissioned in 2018.

But Rob Marghetta from NASA’s Office of Communications told the BBC that the satellite was still in orbit at the time the flash was observed, and will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere during the night.

He added that NASA and the US Department of Defense are already tracking the Resi index.

Ukrainian social media has been full of theories and memes about what the Flash could have been, with a common theme being that it was caused by aliens.

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