East Texas Fireball Was Chinese Rocket: Expert

Thursday, Feb 28, 2013  |  Updated 7:46 AM EDT
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East Texas Fireball Was Chinese Rocket: Expert

AP

File photo of a Chinese rocket. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Li Gang)

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A scientist says fireballs that streaked over the East Texas skies before dawn were likely pieces of a rocket booster that launched a Chinese satellite into orbit.

Shanyn Beason of Beckville, about 25 miles southeast of Longview, told KLTV-TV of Tyler that she saw multicolored streaks of light shooting southeast to northwest over her head just after 3 a.m. Wednesday.

Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell tells The Associated Press that a Chinese CZ-4B rocket booster had been in a decaying orbit after lifting a satellite into orbit on May 10.

It was expected to re-enter the atmosphere about the time as Beason saw the streaks of light, and McDowell says it's highly likely they were fragments from the Chinese booster.

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