Sky Show Over Florida Was Part Of Soviet Rocket, NORAD Says
MIAMI (AP) _ A fireball visible in the sky over Florida from Jacksonville to Key West was actually part of a Soviet rocket falling to Earth, a U.S. air defense spokesman says.
″It was the rocket body used in the launch of a Soviet satellite ... designated Cosmos 1746,″ said Del Kindschi, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command near Colorado Springs, Colo.
He said that experts at the underground surveillance center in Cheyenne Mountain had expected the spent rocket to begin falling to Earth at around 10 p.m. just north of Cuba.
Instead, the rocket body hit the atmosphere near Jacksonville shortly before 10 p.m. and was last seen near Cuba about 15 minutes later, he said. He said he didn’t know whether it disintigrated before touching down, or where it hit if it did touch down.
The Soviets have disclosed no information about when the satellite was launched or what its mission was, Kindschi said.
The rocket ″looked like a big ball of fire with a tail ... less than two miles into the air. It was bright orange-red,″ said Theresa Rines, a disc jockey at radio station WAMR-WRAV in Venice, on Florida’s southwest coast.
The object was visible at Venice for about 30 seconds, Ms. Rines said. ″I thought it was a meteor or comet,″ she said.
″It was very pretty, it was flying real low. It was going in a straight line,″ she said. ″... It just disappeared as it got smaller and smaller.″
About 20 listeners called the radio station to report the object, she said.
In the Miami area, about 30 people called Homestead Air Force base to ask about the bright light with the long fiery plume, said Airman Randall Kellen.