Something Flew Past Space-X Right Before It Exploded

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I pulled the seven frames surrounding the explosion from the official Space-X video, and generated an animated gif below.  Something was definitely flying past the rocket right when it exploded. Look across the top of the animation.


Here is the video ABC News published on September 1, which I generated the gif from.

It might have been a bird. Difficult to say. There was no indication of any trouble in the frame before the explosion.

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42 Responses to Something Flew Past Space-X Right Before It Exploded

  1. mogur says:

    Those silly corporations. That was a Blue Origin bottle rocket.

  2. tonyheller says:

    You don’t need to come here any more.

  3. Sparks says:

    Are there other views of the explosion?

  4. Latitude says:


  5. Leon Brozyna says:

    Really … you went there too? And here I was thinking it was just those silly tabloids that engaged in such stuff.

  6. Olaf Koenders says:

    Too quick to be a bird. Maybe a fly or bee? In any case, too small and insignificant to carry a laser.. :)

  7. Mac says:

    The rocket explodes at about 0:03 seconds in the video. Assuming the microphone was where the camera was, the sound of the explosion is heard at about 0:15 seconds, 12 seconds later. Sound travels at about 1125 feet per second. 12 x 1125 means that the camera was approximately 2.5 miles from the rocket. So, whatever flew past the rocket was too big and traveling too fast to be a bird. The object appears to go behind the big towers, too, so it’s not very close to the camera, from what I can see. The object tracks a perfect straight line, at what seems a very high rate of speed. Not saying it had anything to do with the explosion, but it seems peculiar.

    I don’t know. Is there a problem with my logic here?

  8. Andy DC says:

    Little green men from Mars don’t want us there. Can’t say I blame them.

  9. Bill S says:

    Looks like a bumble bee to me.
    Surprising how high a bumble bee will fly.
    I.e. I’ve seen them chase sparrows.

    And it would blur like what you see in these frames.
    If the object were far away, I question if it would be that blurred.

    Lastly – does not look like a straight line to me. Implies a small object close to the lens???

    • tonyheller says:

      The line of its trajectory is almost dead straight.

    • Menicholas says:

      By sense of it was a large object behind the rocket, flying far to fast to be a bird.
      But if it was closer, there are a lot of pelicans in that area…i used to go to Playalinda beach to read every weekend a few years back, when I lived in Orlando…pelicans at this time of year are very common.
      But they fly very slowly in comparison to their size. That object was too round to be a pelican I think…even with the wings edge-on, they are elongated from front to back.

  10. Don Jordan says:

    It took about 12 seconds for the sound of the explosion to reach the camera, so the rocket was around 2.5 miles away. With the camera zoomed-in the way it was it was probably a bird or an insect close by the observer. My two cents.

  11. Timo - not that one says:

    Even if you assume it is just a coincidental bee near the lens, you have to wonder how a fuel-oxidizer mixture could ignite so quickly. There is only a tiny fraction of a second between “nothing happening” to “gigantic explosion”. One wonders how this could happen without a very fast chemical explosive. Combine the coincidence and the unlikely explosion type, and you have to be curious.

  12. Richard Keen says:

    The”object” appears a bit fuzzy, suggesting that it is closer to the camera than the rocket, but it’s not real fuzzy, so not too close. Maybe several hundred meters. Knowing the focal length and f/ratio of the lens one could measure the “fuzziness” and come up with a reasonablee distance.
    But what strikes me is the location of the first flash of explosion, which you can find by intersection the X-shaped lens flare. It appears to be on the right hand side of the rocket, at the height of the upper vapor plume from the rocket. I think that plume is from the liquid O2 being fueled into the 2nd stage, with the entry point being on the right hand side of the rocket, adjacent to the tower.
    Methinks something malfunctioned in the O2 fueling entry, and it was the fueling system and tower at fault, not the Falcon. Like someone smoking while fueling a car.

    • Me says:

      Static discharge most likely, something wasn’t grounded or bonded properly while refueling. What ever that was flying by, could be a bug, could be a bird, but the distance, if it is close to the camera would do exactly what it looks like. Buzz by like it did, the closer to the camera the faster it would appear to move.

  13. Me says:

    Look at this one, about the 35 sec mark something flew by near the bottom as well.

    • Me says:

      And to be honest, the way his Tesla cars have been going up in flames, it makes ya wonder why this hasn’t happened more often. What’s the chance that a lot of the parts he used was made in China! And charges a small fortune?

    • Bytor says:

      After watching that video closely, it is my opinion that the object was nothing more than a bug of some kind. There are all sorts of objects flying exactly like what Tony made a GIF of. Some near the bottom, some flying diagonally, some flying straight across. Most flying in almost a perfect straight line.

      Sorry, but I see absolutely nothing to this story at all.

    • Menicholas says:

      It should be possible to isolate this video frame by frame, and if any one frame contains an image of the object as it passes the towers, it should be obvious whether it was behind or in front of the towers.
      If it was behind the towers, it was going very fast indeed.
      Whatever it was, it was flying very straight…do insects fly that straight?
      Birds flap their wings, and therefore waiver as they do so…unless it was gliding past the whole time.
      I am sure whoever is the authority there knows whether something besides a bird or insect flew past.
      I will be looking for the official report on this.
      If it was a drone, that would be a hell of a shot at that speed.
      Probably beyond the capabilities of a terrorist organization.

  14. AndyG55 says:

    I’d say from its shape..

    It could be a PIG !

  15. ElCrustace says:

    This “object” appears on 7 frames, that’s 7/24 of a second, or 0.29s.

    There is a lot of birds or flying insects flying on the original video.

    The object is probably one of these birds or flying insects…

    It appears to fly straight but this is the reverse which would have been strange given it flies only 0.29s.

    If this “object” was flying behind the rocket, its speed would have been at least 120/(5/24)m/s or 576m/s.

  16. Gary Palmgren says:

    It was still flying when the explosion took place so that rules out any type of impact device. Clicking carefully, one frame at a time, I see the object between the two towers on the right. The aspect of the object changes. It looks like wings flapping. I believe is is a bird nearer the camera than the rocket.

    • Menicholas says:

      It does not rule out an impact. I am not theorizing that something was fired at the rocket, but you would not see a bullet or projectile fired from a drone at the rocket.

  17. AndrewS says:

    Facebook-multi-million-dollar-sattelite destroyed!?! Hmmmm…
    that sounds like a good thing ;)

    • Bytor says:

      That’s what I thought, but reports are that it was an Israeli satellite that was on board (which leaves me with some questions). Perhaps more than 1 satellite?

      • Stewart Pid says:

        It was a face book satellite built by an Israeli company.

        • Adam says:

          They only rented some of the transponders, it was to be sold to the Chinese after launch. You have to wonder if Elon doesn’t have a “blow up Zuckerberg satellite” button on his Tesla dash though….

  18. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    Possibly a camera drone. It’d make sense for SpaceX to have one in operation during a test like that.

  19. Menicholas says:

    After looking carefully at the distance and the size of the object, it was either a very fast 5-10 foot orb near the rocket, or a small bird or insect near the camera.
    I think it was going way to fast for it’s size to have been anywhere near the rocket.
    In the video posted above by Me and hosted on You Tube by a crazed conspiracy buff who claims to be a PhD physicist, but got the scale all wrong by assuming the camera was only 400 yards from the pad, but who nonetheless ranted at anyone doubting his take on the scale of the object, it can be seen at about the 2:00 mark that the object is illuminated by the flash.
    The guy who posted the video claims this proves it was a UFO going mach 45 above the rocket, but it appears to me the flash lights up the top of the object, which means it was a foreground object below the flash, and hence much closer to the camera, and hence small and likely a bug or bird.
    That also explains how it appeared to be going so straight…it was only in the frame for a few tens of feet.
    That area is a swamp, between the beach access road and the launch pads, and at this time of year, there is all kinds of birds and bugs zipping around.
    So, it was either a UFO going faster than the speed of sound, or a bug.
    I know where my money would be placed if I would bet on it.
    The explosion happened during a fueling operation for a static test firing.
    The clanks and thumps seem to me an important clue…perhaps a mechanical failure of the fueling pump or some such, or something coming loose during fueling and causing a spark.
    Either way…kaboom.
    Now, if someone can isolate a frame showing that object was behind the towers, that is a different story.
    At least one of the objects the UFO peeps claim was behind the towers can be seen to pass in front of the vapor cloud at about 0:35 or so as it emerges onto the left of the screen.
    That’s all for me on this, unless someone can show more.

  20. Birds and insects are common in Florida, and therefore ought to appear on other launch footage. If they don’t, I’m going with the Parallel Worlds theory that what we call reality is actually a computer program playing Pong. Evidence: there were two balls, one left to right then the other right to left. See

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