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A streaking fireball spotted in the skies over Nevada and California Tuesday night was Russian space debris, U.S. defense officials said.
U.S. Strategic Command said the light was caused by a Russian SL-4 rocket body that reentered the atmosphere somewhere above Arizona at around 7:08 p.m. MT (9:08 p.m. ET).
The Joint Space Operation Center had been tracking the rocket body, along with 16,000 other objects, Strategic Command spokesman Lt. Col. Martin O'Donnell said in a statement. He referred other inquiries to the Russian Federal Space Agency.
The rocket was launched on Monday, Strategic Command said.
The light was spotted south of Las Vegas and in the eastern sky from Southern California, and reportedly as far north in California as Bakersfield and Sacramento.
The light was seen streaking across the sky before it appeared to break up.
It was unknown Tuesday night whether the rocket body survived re-entry or if it did, where it ended up, Strategic Command said.
On Nov. 7, an unannounced U.S. missile test fired from a submarine caused a streaking light that captivated Californians and was seen as far away as Arizona. The Trident II (D5) missile was not armed, the Navy said.