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Mon, Feb 16, 2009

Texans See Fireball Falling From The Sky

Likely Debris From A Spent Satellite

Numerous sightings of a fireball careening toward earth were reported Sunday morning across the state of Texas.

Doug Schmidt of Richardson, TX was driving around 11 am when he saw a flash of light in the sky. "It was like a ball of flame with a tail. It looked like a meteor," he said. "There was flame and then a flash and smoke trailing it. I said 'Wow, look at that.' "

Roland Herwig, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman for the southwest division, said that the fireball was probably no more than a chunk of superheated debris from a broken satellite, falling to earth through the atmosphere.

Speculation as to whether the debris was a result of the reported collision between a Russian and a US satellite last week was inconclusive. "It's yet to be proved it's those satellites," Herwig said.

Emergency management officials and local law enforcement agencies also were placed on alert across the state. Saturday, the FAA warned pilots nationwide to increase awareness of the potential hazard and asked that any space debris sightings be immediately reported.

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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