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Thursday, March 10, 2022

Ice, Ice, Baby?

Ever since mankind began lobbing rockets up and out of our atmosphere, ice has been known to occasionally play havoc with images in still photos, film, and video. From time to time, ice flaking or falling away from space-bound vehicles has masqueraded as any number of objects – even leading to occasional speculation that what was being seen might be romantically extraterrestrial as opposed to the commonly frozen.

The latest such conundrum comes from a SpaceX launch yesterday, as Falcon 9 booster B1052 successfully lifted off from Florida on a Starlink satellite deployment mission. Everything was routine until sharp-eyed viewers noticed something nearly seven minutes into the flight, as the booster – now separated from its payload – was orienting itself for landing and recovery.

SpaceX Falcon 9 booster B1052 was preparing for post-launch descent yesterday when the circled object made its mysterious appearance.

Via a camera mounted on the booster, for several seconds something is seen moving vertically from the bottom of the screen to the top and slightly right to left. The object – dare I stick my neck out and not refer to it as ice – appears to be tumbling as it progresses, and before moving out of the frame reflects light. Although to be honest, for some object in space to be captured in the video for that amount of time, it would most likely have to originate from the SpaceX booster itself. Or did it?

You can see the video for yourself – and read the spirited debate or come up with your own explanation – by using the hashtag #B1052 on Twitter, or follow this direct link:

And if you figure it all out, let me know!