Launches: Did SpaceX waste fall on an Australian sheep farm?

Astrophysicist and cosmologist Brad Tucker poses with a piece of debris from a 2020 SpaceX Dragon Crew Capsule reentry. The debris apparently fell in southern New South Wales, Australia on July 9, 2022, creating a boom widely heard sound. Image via Twitter.

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Update August 1: Did SpaceX trash fall on an Australian sheep farm?

Scientists from China’s National Space Administration aren’t the only ones raining down random space junk on Earth in recent days. Yes, China’s wandering 22-ton booster – pieces, at least – came to burn in the skies of Borneo and in the Sulu Sea on Saturday July 30, 2022. The Borneo Post reported today (August 1) that a resident of Batu Niah – a small town on the island of Borneo – discovered metal fragments embedded about one meter deep in the compound around his house on July 31. Believing them to be fragments of the Chinese Long March 5B rocket, he contacted the police.

Meanwhile, it looks like SpaceX could have beaten the Chinese to the (literal) fist. SpaceX’s story began with a sonic boom heard on July 9, 2022 in southern New South Wales and even the Australian capital, Canberra. There was then speculation that the boom could have been caused by a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft launched in November 2020.

On July 25, 2022, a sheep farmer found pieces of charred debris – bearing serial numbers – in a sheep pen.

On July 29, the Australian Broadcasting Company reported that the boom is now apparently associated with SpaceX spacecraft debris found in the Australian sheep farm. ABC reported:

Mick Miners, who runs a sheep farm in Numbla Vale, south of Jindabyne, came across an object almost 3 meters high stuck in a remote part of his pen on [July 25] …

“If it landed on your house, it would be a hell of a mess,” he said.

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Astrophysicist and cosmologist Brad Tucker visited the rural cattle pens and confirmed the debris belonged to SpaceX, lost during the return of a Dragon Crew capsule – the first commercial vehicle to carry astronauts to the ISS – in November 2020.

Finding: Pieces of charred debris – bearing serial numbers – fell on an Australian sheep pen in July. It appears to be from a SpaceX Dragon launched in late 2020.

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