Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a space station?

A flaming object racing through the Middle Eastern sky has sparked fears it may be an out-of-control space station.

Residents in the United Arab Emirates spotted a bright object burning up in the earth’s atmosphere at around 7:30pm on Monday.

Rumours began to circulate that it was a meteor shower, a space station, or even the Chinese satellite Tiangong-1.

The Chinese authorities admitted last year they had lost control of the 8.5-tonne space station, named ‘Heavenly Palace’.

It was expected to crash to Earth between October 2017 and April 2018.

James, 41, who lives in Abu Dhabi, said: “It was about 7:30pm last night and I was just finishing up dragon boat practice on the shore in Abu Dhabi.

“I was chatting with a friend when we both looked into the sky and saw something burning up.

“As I was right by my car I reached into it and grabbed my phone to record whatever it was as it raced across the sky.

“It seemed to be burning too brightly to be a meteor. I have seen fireballs before and I know they look different to meteors.

“Earlier that day I had been reading about the Tiangong-1 satellite that was supposed to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere this year. I thought it could be that.

“Whatever it was it appeared to be breaking up into components.

“It certainly was an extraordinary sight, and definitely not something you see every day.”

However, the Dubai Astronomy Group told local news the object was likely to be a Russian Progress rocket, used to supply the International Space Station, falling back to Earth.

Hasan Al Hariri, from the group, said: “When I analysed the video it was clear this was falling space debris disintegrating in the atmosphere.


“Such modules are guided in such a way that it burns in the air and does not fall into a populated area.

“This was of the Progress module that supplies the International Space Station with water, food and equipment.

“It is an unmanned vehicle that is totally autonomous, it docks at the station, the equipment is removed and it’s sent back where it burns in the atmosphere.

“The clear evidence of a man-made object and event from a natural occurrence of a meteor fall is that meteor fire balls rush in at very high speed and burn in the atmosphere or explode in the sky leaving a trace of gas behind.

“A meteor glow would have been much bigger than what people saw last night.”

Satellite tracking services showed that the Progress module made its final pass before re-entry on a trajectory across Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia, breaking up at around 7.28pm.

But the Dubai Media Office tweeted a report that the Dubai’s space agency that claimed it was a meteor shower.

The media office said: “Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center confirmed that a meteorite has passed through the skies of Dubai.”