On October 11th, ESA/Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano posted some bizarre photos via his Twitter account from the International Space Station. A mystery rocket contrail could be seen rising above the Earth’s twilight horizon.
This oddity was all the more strange as there were no scheduled launches by NASA (due to the government shutdown) or from any U.S. commercial spaceflight company.
Russia and Europe also had no scheduled launches at that time. Still, something had been fired into space.
One photograph shows the wiggly trail of a white contrail, exhaust and water vapor created by a rocket’s passage through the atmosphere; odd pattern forming after being buffeted by high altitude winds.
Then, in another dramatic snapshot, Parmitano posted a weird-looking cloud dominating the photograph caused by the rocket disintegrating over the Earth. (Click Image For Larger View)
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, who is also working on the station, also tweeted his view of the cloud, saying,
“Saw something launch into space today. Not sure what it was but the cloud it left behind was pretty amazing.”
Seeing an unannounced rocket launch out of the window would have likely been pretty unnerving for the crew.
So what was that ULO (Unidentified Launching Object)?
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