Spirialing ‘UFO’ Over Australia Was Likely Falcon 9 Rocket

Logical explanations take all the fun out of UFO’s. After the Falcon 9 rocket launched successfully, later, over on the other side of the world, people in Australia saw a spiraling object in their early morning skies, about 6 am local time. Geoffrey Wyatt, from the Sydney Observatory, said it appeared to have been the Falcon 9 rocket, which launched about an hour earlier.

Another image below.


The image is from the 9MSN website in Australia, where you can see more images.

If you recall, there was another spiraling rocket that created a visual sensation over Norway in December of 2009.

Hat tip to The Original Rocket Dungeon. Added later: Oh, and I see the Bad Astronomer has fully explained the whole thing!

38 Replies to “Spirialing ‘UFO’ Over Australia Was Likely Falcon 9 Rocket”

  1. Well the Falcon 9 did spiral slowly at the end, the question now is could this be the Falcon 9? I do not find the flightpath and orbit anywhere.

  2. Found some orbital elements

    Orbital Elements:
    1 36595U 10026A 10155.91803255 .00078673 32520-5 10000-3 0 41
    2 36595 34.4959 40.7086 0023426 215.5471 255.2519 16.05715940 20

    Pass for Sydney, Australia:
    Location: Sydney (151.1949° E, 33.8883° S)
    Time zone: UTC

    Time Satellite Azm Elv Mag Range S.Azm S.Elv
    2010-06-05 19:40:45 DRAGON/FALCON 9 R/B 290.7 15.0 ecl 823 72.5 -14.9
    2010-06-05 19:42:06 DRAGON/FALCON 9 R/B 339.2 24.5 ? 580 72.4 -14.7
    2010-06-05 19:43:27 DRAGON/FALCON 9 R/B 27.6 15.1 ? 824 72.2 -14.4

  3. why was it spiraling. Was it out of fuel and coasting or was it out of control. With no fuel, must be out of control. Did the rocket splashdown somewhere?

  4. sail4evr, you have so many questions that it is hilarious. I laughed at your post thoroughly.

  5. When rocket stages are shut off, they are not completely “out of fuel.” There’s still residual fuel and oxidizer left in the tanks. Perhaps the liquid O2 began to boil from the heated environment, and seep through somewhere, causing the stage to “spiral.”

  6. The booster section is a recoverable asset. It is supposed to parachute gently back to Earth after separation from the second stage and Dragon simulation capsule then be recovered at sea. So the object seen over Australia must be the second stage assembly after separation from the test capsule?

  7. @artberry – No… this kind of thing has been see many times before. Typically a second or third stage booster section’s engine shuts off when the required orbital insertion parameters are met. Sometimes there is extra fuel left over in the tanks. When those used stages begin to outgas the extra/leftover fuel it acts like a jet which causes the leftover stage to spin. Seeing this effect is dependent on the sun’s angle in relation to the rockets path.

    @dseattle – Number one, this wasn’t a military flight, it was one of the first totally commercial flights. Secondly, the launch was during the day but the orbit took the used stage around the Earth to the night time side of the planet.

  8. This confirms the Falcon spinning observed in the launch video.

    @ sail4evr:

    Remember the russian launch spinning as observed in Norway? This was like that.

    In the launch video there was no separation between stage 2 and Dragon mock up (converted test, bed really), so the whole complex was reported “in orbit”.

    At least the Dragon will come down in a year, according to SpaceX (I believe).

  9. I no longer buy the ‘failed rocket’ theorys, the evidence doesn’t add up. These are definitely something else. Not saying they are from another planet, but they are not failed rockets, or boosters, etc.

  10. @ SuperKevin,

    So, when you hear hoof-beats, what do you think of: horses or zebras?

  11. If you look at the last part of the Falcon 9 it is indeed spiralling a bit, not rotation around its axis. Is this expected?

    I am wondering if the 9 engine system is a bit hard to balance an equal trust on all engines. I hope not.

  12. Problem with the rocket explanation is we have been firing rockets into the air since WWII and they’ve been crashing for just as long. Strange how they’ve only just started to crash with this regular spiral pattern in the last few months.

    Obviously if it’s not ET it’s probably some new form of technology designed to bring rockets down. E.g some form of torsion physics based defense system.

  13. Can I ask whether the technicians in control of the launch have stated what they know about the second stage? Apart from a meaningless statement about a rotation – a rotation that wasn’t serious enough to interfere with the delivery of the payload.

    According to Space.com the capsule reached orbit at 2.55 p.m. EDT i.e. 9 minutes after lift off. That’s 4.55 a.m. AEST.

    According to NASA the plan was that the second stage was to burn for 8 mins 37 secs to place the payload at 155 mls above the earth. After coasting the second stage was to re-start and burn for a further 68 secs to proceed to a heliocentric orbit – unless there was a change of plan.

    I would imagine that the second stage was under observation at all times to achieve that outcome.

    If the spiral object is the second stage venting, it’s a vent with a significant aperture as the object filmed for over two minutes at @ 5.50 a.m. AEST shows quite a large focussed centre surrounded by the ‘halo-ing gases’.

    Did the second burn take place? If so, then there wouldn’t have been much left to vent.

    Was the second stage sent to a heliocentric orbit? If so, how could it be seen venting off the coast of Australia an hour after launch?

    What do the technicians say about the final outcome of the second stage?

    When I read the answer to the question, the convenient explanation for a very unusual event might make some sense.

  14. I am surprised at how few viewers have yet to see an actual rocket launch? When a space launch reaches extreme altitude the rocket plumes can spread very rapidly over a vast area due to 1) the speed of the expelled exhaust in a vacuum and 2) the interaction with high altitude jet streams and/or the streaming solar wind. These displays are often very bright due to being in full sunlight while the surface has rotated into darkness. The evolution of high altitude rocket contrails are amazing to watch and always seem to cause a big stir amongst the under-informed.

  15. It depends on the efficiency of the engines which at that stage was a big unknown. They might have carried more fuel than needed just in case.

    Also even if you have a small amount of fuel, when it is spread in a feint mist over a large area, it will light up like fog does. In this case the angle of sunlight.

    I want to see more reports from FalconX. More technical data. Their own web site is disappointing low in news. Only the launch video that’s all.

  16. dseattle:

    Why would the US military in Australia want to shoot a rocket in the middle of the night over an area where people live?

    In revenge against Australians for inflicting Vegemite on the American people! 😉

  17. The spiral had to be greater than 27km alt to be seen in Brisbane and Melbourne at the same time.

    Photos show it to be about the size of the Moon.
    Even if it was only half this size (15 minutes of arc) and sitting on the Horizon at 27km alt, then it would have to be 2.5km in diameter.
    It’s likely that it was more than double this size.

    This leaves me to wonder how this possible from a 10m * 50m vessel expelling a little fuel.

    Real launch data would clear this up. Can anyone get it?

  18. Very unlikely that I will see a launch ever, wrong side of the world.

    Not much fuel is needed to give such a wide area. It is similar like fog you shine a light through. Big area but low density of water droplets. Also the fuel damp is basically travelling with the rocket. The vacuum is spreading it out.

    But I would love that SpaceX gives more technical data about the launch. Unless it is of course company secrecy not to give away too much to the competition.

  19. It is obvious that those individuals, who believe in the spiraling ‘UFO’ in the sky over Australia and, previously, in the sky over Norway, have an innate need to believe in some ‘higher power’ watching over us — just like pious Christians see ‘Jesus’ or the ‘Madonna’ in an oil stain, frying pan, cheese-on-toast, or what-have-you. 🙄

  20. “Why would the US military in Australia want to shoot a rocket in the middle of the night over an area where people live?”

    Actually to do so would be illegal. Your bases can only be used for purely defensive purposes – if not – they would be asked to leave.

  21. Falcon 9. Awesome; thanks for making such a splash. Its great publicity, probably more then the launch itself. I must wonder what their marketing Dept must be thinking: Should we tell them or leave the ambiguity going. ?? Considering that It wasn’t supposed to (Roll) and that Its possible that (the out gassing) is a sigh of potential problems. Its much better to keep everyone guessing and enjoying the speculation.

    On a side note, How cool would it be to use sounding rockets to (purposefully) create high altitude displays? Like fireworks, but much much better. 🙂

    As long as it didn’t do any harm to our ozone layer or otherwise create problems. There is awe to be had and shared here.


  22. “For the doubters, if this is not the Falcon 9, then “where” was the Falon 9? Since it should also be visible at that very moment”

    Why? The capsule separated from the second stage about an hour before the Australian sighting at altitude 155 mls.

    The alleged trajectory as plotted by ‘badastronomy’ is possibly consistent with the eyewitness accounts of the movement of the object (i.e. SSW 210 degrees to 90 degrees E) but at least one witness says that the object was stationary for about a minute before slowly heading East.

    Does anyone have the official time that the capsule and/or the second stage (which should have been separated from the capsule) were supposed to pass over Eastern Australia? Without that information the plotted trajectory doesn’t mean a thing.

    If the second stage was still in orbit around the Earth, was it in front of or behind the capsule? Was it at the same altitude?

    The speculation is that what was seen was the second stage venting but it (the second stage) was supposed to be sent on to a heliocentric orbit.

    If the Dragon capsule that was boosted by the Falcon 9 was anywhere near the second stage and the second stage was venting and, therefore, out of control it would have put the capsule at risk.

    The last thing I would expect to see is an out-of-control booster in proximity to the capsule, the ground controllers would have been going out of their minds!

    There has been no information about the fate of the second stage published by the people who are in a position to know. Until they do, the explanation of the phenomenon is anyone’s guess – but that’s it, a guess!

  23. Ok, I am with kevin and artberry on this. But I also am not believing our own propaganda–that we are masters of the universe–dangerous stuff believing your own publicity. We aren’t the producers of this spiraling event whatever it is……not a defense weapon or anything else.
    But it has happened enough to make me think……………..WS Carey clearly shows the Earth undergoing two separate torsion events. Read Earth, Universe, Cosmos. Today you can see the separations in the rifts that fracture the earth at the equator. Scientists say that the only way the Earth can shift its physical & magnetic poles is thru the close approach of a large physical body. We all breathlessly await Nibiru—exhale.
    What if the hemispheres of the Earth build up not down. With the expectation of a magnetic polar reversal we think it will happen with decrease over time. It may happen with maximum increase suddenly.
    In sols a vanishingly small mineral makes a body impact. Think a small meteorite impacting a planet with maximum magnetic field increase & separation. One half of our planet would reverse, one half go forward. Is this not what we see in Carey’s carefully documented work?

  24. If you look at the last part of the Falcon 9 it is indeed spiralling a bit, not rotation around its axis. Is this expected?

    I don’t see that, I see a simple rotation.

    I am wondering if the 9 engine system is a bit hard to balance an equal trust on all engines.

    The rotation started with the 1-engine stage 2.

    Can I ask whether the technicians in control of the launch have stated what they know about the second stage?

    SpaceX has said that it will go over the data under the next month.

    Was the second stage sent to a heliocentric orbit? If so, how could it be seen venting off the coast of Australia an hour after launch?

    The orbit was geocentric of course, it was a test flight of a LEO capable rocket.

    Why would the US military in Australia want to shoot a rocket in the middle of the night over an area where people live?

    As http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/ explains, the rocket attains orbit over the ocean (which is the crash area) way before, since Earth atmosphere is ~ 100 km, and the distance to Australia ~ 1000 km or so.

  25. they’ve only just started to crash with this regular spiral pattern in the last few months.

    There’s the hoof-beats again. These things have been observed before – but the density of observers and mobile cameras have never been as high.

    but at least one witness says that the object was stationary for about a minute before slowly heading East.

    But I also am not believing our own propaganda [sic!]

    Hoof-beats; “propaganda”, hoof-beats^2.

  26. This blog has become an interesting study in the propagation of misinformation! (WHERE do they get this stuff?) I imagine many of these posts were generated by well meaning but under-informed individuals who Googled “UFO over Australia” while searching for any fantastic story to chat up fellow bar flies while pounding a few pints of bitter down at the pub?

    I say, you are welcome here, as long as you actually look at the science behind these blogs! Take a chance at actually learning something! Check and recheck your sources. If they are of questionable origin or ask for your money, reconsider! You’ll feel better in the morning about it, as long as you don’t pound a few too many~

  27. “The rotation started with the 1-engine stage 2.”

    Yes I was mistaken in this, somehow I saw a 9 engine seconds stage. I am wondering if it was something mislabelled and later corrected.

    I should recheck the rotating a bit, Take a closer look, the Earth did seem to rotate oddly for a simple Z-Axis rotation. Even with offset.

  28. @katesisco, come one man.
    Only fools would believe in Nibiru.

    It is very known that it is Arboria where Ming the Merciless wants to destroy Earth. This was predicted in 1980. They even created a movie to prepare the human race for this to come.

  29. @Torbjorn Larsson
    I rechecked the rotation in the video clip of the on board launch cam but this does seem like a pure z-axis rotation it is more like a spiral like rotation.

    Of course I have not used the science method of measuring it. lol

  30. Olaf, what can I say? Of course it is possible that something else than rotation was at hand, it was unintended after all. OTOH rotation along the spin axis is likeliest, and the rocket attitude is unknown so opinions may differ as you’ve already noted.

    Luckily SpaceX will tell us what was “going up”, eventually.

  31. I agree SpaceX has the real data.
    I am wondering as a private company, they probably do not have to share this with the public? Company secrecy?

  32. Torbjorn said: “the orbit was geocentric of course – does he know this for fact? Or is it just a reasonable surmise?

    This is what Nasa Spaceflight.com published before the flight:

    “Assuming that the first stage flight and separation are nominal, the second stage will ignite four seconds after separation to begin the first of two planned burns. This burn is expected to end after eight minutes and thirty seven seconds of flight. At this point, its engine will be shut down, and the spacecraft will probably separate shortly afterwards. The target orbit for the spacecraft after today’s launch is understood to have an altitude of approximately 250 kilometres (155 miles), and 34.5 degrees of inclination.

    After spacecraft separation, the rocket will continue to coast until fifty four minutes and thirty three seconds after launch. Once the coast phase is complete, the second stage is expected to restart and burn for around sixty eight seconds, a burn which it is understood is intended to place the upper stage into a heliocentric orbit, however this has not been officially confirmed,” http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2010/06/live-spacex-attempt1-maiden-launch-falcon-9/

    If this is the Falcon 9, the logical explanation is that what is seen heading towards the East is a disaster unfolding as the second burn of stage 2 misfires, rather than ‘venting’.

    What do “hoof-beats” have to do with rational discussion? Those comments are unhelpful and pejorative. Eye-witness testimony of any event is important for evaluation.

    At least one other eye-witness stated that the object passed from NW to SE – which is inconsistent with with the SW to NE track of Falcon. I didn’t see the object, did you Torbjorn?

    Personally, I don’t subscribe to this object being of the same ilk as the Norwegian ‘rocket’ scenario last December- the behaviour and appearance is hardly similar at all.

    The Australian scenario, clearly, can be Falcon 9 – but there are a few anomalies to be clarified before that can be confirmed – probably by SpaceX. (Considering the published burn times and upon making a calculation of the time it would take for a object launched from Florida at 0446AEST to reach 155 mls and then travel on the projected path to Eastern Australia, surely someone can make a pretty accurate statement about where stage 2 was at ‘@0550 AEST’ .)

    Norway? Irrespective of the claims, I believe that was HAARP! I wish they’d stop mucking around with things where they have no idea of the consequences. If they ever succeed in controlling what they’re attempting to control in the ionosphere we’re all in trouble.

  33. tiger,

    Norway was a failed russian icbm launch. This has been discussed at length. The russians sent out a notice of the launch covering the date the formation was seen and it was along the trajectory of the missle’s test path. The russians admitted that there was a failure. Sheesh.

  34. I’m well aware of the Russians ‘fessing up’ to the Norway incident. I’m also well aware that many people accept the explanation – I don’t.

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