At least three large pieces of a SpaceX rocket have been found on farmland in southeastern Australia.
According ABC Newsthe Australian Space Agency has confirmed that the three pieces of debris are likely pieces of a service module dropped from the SpaceX Crew Dragon in May.
On July 9, residents of rural Numbla Vale in New South Wales reported hearing sonic booms before two pieces of debris were later found by farmers. According ABC Newsa third piece was discovered on July 14 near Moonbah.
Debris hit the ground, burying parts below the surface. One piece was nearly 10 feet long.
NASA said CNN that the debris likely came from the trunk of the SpaceX Crew Dragon. It powers the capsule during its orbit and is jettisoned into space before the capsule returns to Earth.
The find is the largest known discovery of space debris in Australia since 1979. Pieces of wreckage from the 77-ton US Skylab space station burned up in the atmosphere, spreading debris over the city of Perth on July 11, 1979, according The Associated Press.
It is unclear whether SpaceX will pay for the removal and transport of the debris to the United States or if it will be donated to science.
“The United States is responsible for any damage caused by this space debris…and Australia could come to the United States and seek some form of compensation if there are any costs involved in the cleanup,” said the Member of Parliament for the Space Institute at the Australian National University. director Cassandra Steer said ABC News.
Space debris is a growing concern as the number of rocket launches increases each year.
China has been repeatedly criticized for allowing the final stages of its Long March-5 rocket to reenter Earth orbit out of control. According to PANASA accused Beijing last year of “failing to maintain responsible standards for their space debris” after parts of a Chinese rocket landed in the Indian Ocean.
In a study Posted in “natural astronomypublished in July, the researchers say there is a “10% chance of having one or more casualties over a decade” caused by rocket body reentry based on current launch practices.
So far, there are no recorded cases of humans being killed by space debris re-entering the atmosphere, The Washington Post reported. In 1961, a cow in Cuba was killed, according to Brown University Joukowsky Institute for Archeology and the Ancient World.
In 2021, The New York Times reported that an out-of-control SpaceX rocket stage had re-entered Earth’s atmosphere near Seattle. The newspaper reported that pieces of the rocket landed on a farmer’s property.
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