The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) received an inquiry from the media about the sighting of unidentified falling objects over Northern Samar and Zamboanga Sibugay on 27 May 2023 at approximately 3:00 AM PhST. The sightings have been video-recorded and uploaded on social media. 

Available predictions and tracking of objects returning from space indicate that the sightings are highly likely related to the re-entry of orbital debris from CZ-3B rocket that was launched on 19 August 2019. Based on PhilSA’s reconstruction of the trajectory, the debris entered the upper atmosphere (altitude of 100 km) over the Indian Ocean on 27 May at 3:00 AM PhST and started to burn off as it passed through the atmosphere. It went over Panay Gulf at 3:11 AM (during which the debris were sighted from Zamboanga Sibugay), traversed the Visayas islands, and headed to the Pacific Ocean. Remnants of the debris, should there be any, could have fallen in the Pacific Ocean, around 978 kilometers Northeast of Eastern Samar.

Orbital debris are components, parts, or fragments of objects sent to space, such as spacecrafts and satellites, that are no longer serving function. They are sometimes called “space junk” that could collide with other objects in space or fall back to Earth. The uncontrolled re-entry of orbital debris in the atmosphere has the potential to cause damage, harm, or injury. 

The Philippines share the global concern on space debris mitigation, and is committed to the existing guidelines and mechanisms addressing the risks of space debris.