Video: “Mysterious” shimmering spiral flying over Hawaii | Boing Boing

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On Sunday, a camera livestreaming the night sky captured the astonishing video below of a shimmering spiral floating overhead. Turns out the strange object was the upper stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket delivering a classified spy satellite into orbit on behalf of the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The streaming camera is part of a public outreach effort from the Subaru Telescope on top of the Mauna Kea dormant volcano. From Space.com:

The video “shows the characteristic spiral caused by the post-deorbit-burn fuel vent of the Falcon 9 upper stage, which was deorbited over the Pacific [Ocean] just after the end of the 1st revolution,” Netherlands-based satellite tracker Marco Langbroek told SpaceWeather.com[…]

The first stage of the Falcon 9 booster is reusable, and it landed successfully atop a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean, according to SpaceX footage. The upper stage of Falcon 9 is not reusable, and after sending the spacecraft out to its assigned orbit, that stage fell back naturally in the atmosphere to burn up.

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