An illuminated unidentified flying object sighted over Saudi Arabia last week was the debris of a Chinese rocket that launched a communication satellite in 2008, a well-known Saudi astronomer was reported on Monday as saying.
Mansour Al Mazroui, head of the astronomy faculty at the King Abdul Aziz University in the Western Red Sea port of Jeddah, said reports that the object which was sighted over the western town of Medina on Thursday night was a meteor were incorrect.
“This object was the debris of a Chinese rocket that launched a communication satellite in June 2008 and had been anticipated to enter the atmosphere on January 16 2014 at around 10.57pm Saudi time,” he told Sabq newspaper.
“When the rocket entered the atmosphere, it exploded and split into some illuminated parts.
“It had been scheduled to fall into the ocean as it had been supplied with a rocket propeller to ensure it will not fall on land.
“Most parts of space rockets normally burn and become ash when they enter the atmosphere.”
Mazroui said the object was that of a rocket because meteors are usually seen in one area but this one was sighted in different areas and it lasted nearly three minutes.
Sada newspaper, which carried pictures and a film of the object on Friday, said it was captured by several citizens who happened to be in the area. It later quoted some experts as saying it could be a meteor.