More Snowy Mountains space junk found amid visit from Australian Space Agency – Michmutters

More Snowy Mountains space junk found amid visit from Australian Space Agency

A third piece of space junk has been found in the NSW Snowy Mountains, believed to be linked to a SpaceX craft.

Two other pieces of debris were recently found by farmers at neighboring properties in Numbla Vale, after a loud bang was heard in the region on July 9.

The sonic boom was believed to be caused by the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, which was launched in November 2020, re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.

One piece of the junk was embedded deep in the ground and was estimated to be about three meters long.

The third piece of debris was discovered and photographed by a Moonbah resident on July 14.

It was not until the ABC’s coverage of the space junk in late July that the owner came forward.

News of the discoveries also led to a visit from technical experts at the Australian Space Agency and NSW Police on Saturday.

“The agency is actively working to support formal identification of the objects, and is engaging with our counterparts in the US,” an agency spokesperson said.

“If the community spots any further suspected debris they should contact local police in the first instance.”

a man stands next to a piece of space junk
Farmer Mick Miners stumbled across a piece of space junk on July 25.(ABC South East NSW: Adriane Reardon)

Monaro Police District Commander Superintendent John Klepczarek said the objects would remain at the properties while authorities waited for SpaceX to confirm ownership.

“We believe it could be associated with SpaceX but we won’t be confirming it until we actually get acknowledgment from them,” he said.

“It’s early indication from them that there could be attempts to retrieve this space junk.”

a piece of space junk in a paddock
This piece was photographed in the Moonbah region on July 14.(Supplied: Nick Lodge )

Like pieces of a puzzle

Australian National University College of Science astrophysicist Brad Tucker said he was not surprised more fragments had been found.

a man holds space junk
Snowy Mountains resident Jock Wallace with a piece of space junk.(ABC South East NSW: Adriane Reardon)

“You’d expect that there would be more bits of this somewhere,” he said.

“You can probably build up enough pieces and put it together almost if more are found.”

a man leaning against space junk
Dr Tucker believes more pieces of space junk could be found in the NSW Snowy Mountains.(ABC South East NSW: Adriane Reardon)

Dr Tucker said the discovery of the pieces could be the largest space junk found in Australia since parts of NASA’s Skylab space station fell to Earth near the south-western Western Australia town of Balladonia in 1979.

He said there was still a lot to learn about what might be done with the objects.

“Eventually SpaceX, or at least the US, will have to make a declaration about whether they want to keep it or have it returned, or not,” Dr Tucker said.

“This doesn’t happen that often, so it’s not like you pull out this standard ‘space junk landed in my sheep paddock’ form.

“There’s a lot of unique work that has to be done.”

‘Respect and courtesy, please’

The uniqueness of the situation was not lost on the authorities involved.


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