Space debris that crashed into Australian farmland is likely from SpaceX, says astrophysicist

A piece of space junk appears in a field in Australia in New South Wales, Australia.

Astrophysicist Brad Tucker said this was a piece of space junk likely from the SpaceX Crew-1 mission.Brad Tucker

  • Space junk was found scattered across fields in Australia last month.

  • The debris likely came from a SpaceX Crew-1 flight, said an astrophysicist who examined the debris.

  • Scientists were tracking the flight path of the debris from Earth.

Australian farmers mysteriously found space junk scattered across their fields last month. An astrophysicist who examined the debris now believes it was from a SpaceX flight.

People near Dalgety, New South Wales, found three large pieces of debris, with the largest – a 10-foot-tall triangular structure – found firmly planted in the ground, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

The objects were scarred with burn marks, according to re-entry, ABC reported.

Brad Tucker, an astrophysicist who inspected the debris, said in a video that it was likely fragments of the fuselage of a SpaceX Dragon aircraft used during the Crew-1 mission in 2020. Some of the fragments had serial numbers, Tucker said.

Scientists knew that debris from the Dragon spacecraft debris could fall into the area around early July, and the debris is a “good match” for the July 8 flight path of the hull. tweeted astronomer Jonathan McDowell.

“Having been out there and looked at the pieces myself, there is no question in my mind that they are space junk,” Tucker told Space.com.

“I’m a farmer…what am I going to tell NASA?”

Sheep farmer Mick Miners discovered the 10-foot-tall object in his field on July 25, he told the ABC. His neighbor, Jock Wallace, had also found debris in his field the previous week, and people in the area also reported hearing a loud bang on July 9, ABC reported.

Wallace first reported the finding to the local civil aviation safety authority, which told him to call NASA.

“I’m a farmer from Dalgety, what am I going to tell NASA?” Wallace told ABC.

He also said of the debris: “If it fell on your house, it would make a mess.”

Debris found in a field in New South Wales.

Debris found at Wallace’s paddock in New South Wales.Brad Tucker

The Australian Space Agency and New South Wales police are investigating the objects to confirm their connection to spaceflight, the ABC reported on Monday.

“Ultimately SpaceX, or at least the US, is going to have to make a statement about whether or not they want to keep it or return it,” Tucker said, according to ABC.

Scientists warn about space junk

The risk of space junk falling on a human is tiny, and scientists can track the largest pieces of space debris from Earth to predict where they will fall.

But scientists are sounding the alarm about space junk, saying the problem will worsen as space travel intensifies.

The news comes as debris released by a Chinese Long March 5B rocket returned to Earth undetected on Saturday.

Its landing area was mostly water and deserts, making the chance of it falling into populated areas very small. Most of the debris burned up during re-entry, according to the China Manned Space Agency, CNN reported.

However, NASA was critical of the approach, saying the debris “poses a significant risk of loss of life and property,” according to CNN.

It was the second time China has let debris from its massive rocket fall back to earth unchecked.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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