British Airways pilot flying from London to Singapore takes photo of Soyuz returning to Earth

The European Space Agency blog has an interesting story of a “close encounter” that took place over Russia on Nov. 11, 2013.

British Airways pilot Captain Simon Wijker was on board a Boeing 777 flying as BA015 from London to Singapore when, over Russia near Rostov (N42.22.7 E048.53.4, heading east) he spotted an object south of them that, in an email he sent to ESA described as “a white ball of fire travelling at very high speed following roughly the curvature of the Earth disappearing over the horizon to the North.”

Wijker was even able to take some pictures of the vapour trail left behind that he sent to the ESA.

The object that could be spotted from BA015 turned to be the Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft, with ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, NASA’s Karen Nyberg, Russian commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and the Olympic torch, shortly before it landed in Kazakhstan.

H/T to Roberto Petagna for the heads-up


Image credit: ESA/Simon Wijker

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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.