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Body of Rocket Creates Flash over Central U.S. Sky

December 10, 1990

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The body of a Soviet rocket created a brilliant flash of light seen by residents of five states as it fell toward Earth early Sunday, officials and witnesses said.

People in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Kansas and Colorado reported seeing the light at about 1:45 a.m. EST. Witnesses described the sighting as a bright, reddish object with a long tail. Some said they could make out its cylinderlike shape.

It was the second unusual sky sighting since Friday, when residents in Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky and Ohio saw a dazzling blue-green light that scientists later identified as a fireball - an object similar to a meteor.

U.S. Air Force Maj. David Griffard of the North American Aerospace Defense Command identified Sunday’s sighting as a Soviet rocket body. The agency is tracking about 6,500 objects in space through the U.S. Space Command’s worldwide network of radar and electrical sensors, he said.

Griffard said the rocket body disintegrated shortly after it entered the Earth’s atmosphere. He said he didn’t have any further information about the rocket.

Robert Skuy of Tulsa said he pulled his car over Sunday morning to look at what he first took to be an airplane in trouble.

″Then I thought it might have been a missile,″ Skuy said. ″It was weird because it wasn’t falling. That’s why I thought it was an airplane at first. It was kind of like in orbit. All the other meteorites I’ve seen have been way high up in the sky.″

Skuy, like other witnesses, said the light appeared to be at the altitude of a low-flying plane.

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