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NASA denies its satellite crashed in Ukraine after fireball spotted over Kyiv

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US space agency NASA has denied that its RHESSI satellite was responsible for a massive fireball that was seen in Ukraine last night (April 19).

The alarming blaze was seen just before 10pm in Kyiv as air raid sirens rang throughout the city, sparking much speculation.

Locals believe that it was the retired RHESSI satellite, which is due to fall back down to earth this week after spending 21 years in orbit collecting data on solar flares.

On top of this, city leaders appeared to initially confirm the defunct NASA probe had landed in the ravaged country.

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Sergiy Popko, head of the city's military administration, wrote on Telegram: "Around 10pm on April 19, the bright glow of an aerial object was observed in the sky over Kyiv.

"According to preliminary information, this phenomenon was the result of a Nasa space satellite falling to Earth."

He went on to say that while an air raid alert was activated, "air defence was not in operation."

Shortly after his message, the Ukrainian Air Force said the flash was "related to the fall of a satellite/meteorite”, adding that this information needed "to be clarified."

Despite the panic from Ukrainian officials, NASA later said that the satellite was still in orbit when the flash occurred, insisting it was not responsible for the strange explosion.

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NASA told the BBC that the satellite was still in orbit at the time the flash was observed, and was due to re-enter Earth's atmosphere during the night.

On top of this, satellite tracking website Satflare indicated that RHESSI was nowhere near Ukraine at the time.

The defunct 300kg spacecraft was meant to re-enter the atmosphere in the early hours of the morning today.

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Experts warned there is an uncertainty of plus or minus 16 hours.

The space agency previously said it was not clear exactly where it would fall but the risk of anyone being harmed by debris is "low", with odds of about one in 2,467.

The majority of the structure should burn up as it plummets through the atmosphere, but some parts were expected to hit the ground.


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