The Mysterious 'Flying Whirpool' Over Hawaii Reveals Its Secrets

Space Feb 23, 2022

On April 17, 2022, an unidentified flying object was spotted gliding over Mauna Kea in what seemed to be some kind of whirpool. Recorded by the Subaru-Asahi Sky Camera, the object didn't get to cause a huge stir on the Internet - but only because it was de-mystified almost immediately.

What the Subaru Telescope, located on the Hawaii, recorded was none other than the 2nd booster rocked falling off Space X's Falcon 9 that was launched just a few hours earlier on the same day. This is what it looked like upon entering the Earth's atmosphere!

The 1st stage booster of the Falcon 9 rocket is reusable, which is one one of the most remarkable features this rocket is known for. It safely returned back, landing on a floating platform in the midst of the Pacific Ocean. The upper, 2nd stage, though, cannot be used more than once, that's why it just naturally fell off and created this beautiful and somewhat ethereal spectacle that was picked up by the Subaru Telescope.

The whole thing was dubbed the 'flying whirpool' due to the peculiar shape of the burning 2nd stage rocket booster that was detached from the Falcon 9 rocket that was delivering a spy satellite into orbit for the U.S. NRO (National Reconnaissance Office).

Not many actual people witnessed the whole event as the telescope is located at high altitude with only a handful of people operating it - most of the work there is done remotely.


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