A Long March-5B Y3 rocket, carrying the Wentian lab module for China's space station under construction, takes off from Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in Hainan province, China July 24, 2022. China Daily via


  • China reportedly launched a Long March 3B rocket in November 2022
  • Japanese astronomers expected it to enter the atmosphere on Wednesday evening
  • The flaming orb was seen in northern Taiwan and Japan's Okinawa Prefecture

The Taiwanese National Defense Ministry (MND) and Japanese astronomers believe that the fireball seen streaking across the night sky in northern Taiwan and Japan's Okinawa Prefecture Wednesday was the wreckage from a Chinese rocket burning up in the atmosphere, according to a report.

In Taiwan, the fireball was seen at around 7:30 p.m. local time by people at Huilong MRT Station in New Taipei City, with residents in Taoyuan City and Nantou County also reporting seeing the flaming orb, Taiwan News reported.

Taiwanese Air Force pilots patrolling the sky in Mirage 2000 fighter jets also confirmed seeing the fireball. The MND said its preliminary judgment was that the object was space wreckage from a Chinese rocket.

Astronomers at the Lulin Observatory in Nantou County confirmed that based on the speed of the fireball and its low-orbit track, it was a man-made object.

"The speed and angle of natural meteors is very different. Judging from these two points, it is a man-made celestial body falling. It is most likely an artificial satellite or a rocket that has been orbiting the Earth. The wreckage of it should be quite large," Chang Yung-hin, an assistant at the observatory, said to local news outlet PTS News.

Another expert from the Taipei Astronomical Museum also called the flying object "space junk."

"The incident last night lasted up to two minutes, and it was more than likely a man-made object falling from outer space," Hsieh Hsiang-yu, a research team technician at the museum, told local outlet TTV News.

Meanwhile, Japanese astronomers at Ishigaki Island Observatory were quoted by NHK as saying that they were expecting a Long March 3B rocket that China launched in November 2022 to enter the atmosphere on Wednesday evening.

They also predicted that the wreckage would fly directly over the main island of Okinawa or slightly north.

A curator at Hiratsuka City Museum in Kanagawa Prefecture was cited by Nippon TV News as saying that the rocket could have been drifting in space before slowly rolling out of its orbit, reentering the Earth's atmosphere and falling.

"The rocket for transporting artificial satellites launched in November 2022, Long March 3B. It is believed to be the wreckage of [the rocket]," Daichi Fujii, curator-in-charge at Hiratsuka City Museum.

Fujii also said that the rocket burned once the speed increased while descending, and because Venus can be seen along with it, it was thought that the two had the same orbit.

Pictured: This image taken with a meteorite tracking device developed by George Varros, shows a meteorite as it enters Earth's atmosphere during the Leonid meteor shower November 19, 2002. Getty Images/George Varros and Dr. Peter Jenniskens/NASA