A dead Russian missile-warning satellite has fallen out of orbit and burned up in the atmosphere, the Russian Aerospace Forces confirmed on Thursday.
The spacecraft, named Kosmos-2430, was launched in 2007 as part of Russia's Oko program and had monitored the launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles from US territory. According to the military, the satellite has been defunct since 2012. It was pulled out of orbit on 5 January and burned up completely some 100 kilometres above the Atlantic Ocean.
The descent of Kosmos-2430 was seen from New Zealand, where sky-gazers mistook the blazing fireball for a meteor shower.
Sweet meteor shower over Gisborne just now pic.twitter.com/IKifknbxIA— Jeff 🦄 (@peabnuts123) 5 января 2019 г.
The North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD), which conducts aerospace warning and control, earlier confirmed that it saw the satellite re-enter the atmosphere. This echoed a report by SatTrackCam Leiden, a Dutch-based satellite tacking station, which correctly identified the object seen from New Zealand on 5 January as the aforementioned Russian spacecraft.