SpaceX rocket debris lands on Australian sheep farm


So far, three large pieces of SpaceX rocket debris have been found on a sheep ranch in southeast Australia. The space debris was found in a rural area of Numbla Vale in New South Wales and in nearby Moonbah. 

Space debris and junk is equipment or parts of a rocket that is jettisoned into space. It has served its purpose and has only one-time use. The majority of space debris will burn up when reentering the Earth’s atmosphere. And it most often falls in the ocean. 

As space travel is happening more often with more spaceships entering orbit it is expected that there will be more space debris found on land. And it’s not unusual for space debris to be found on land after an uncontrolled reentry.

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Last year, a malfunction caused a SpaceX rocket stage to have an uncontrolled reentry. And it created an amazing light show near Seattle.  The lights were the space junk burning as it hit the Earth’s atmosphere. And SpaceX rocket debris landed on a farmer’s property in Washington state. 

SpaceX rocket debris in the Outback

Last week, Mick Miners was herding his sheep. His property is roughly 5,000 acres and he rides a four-wheeler to manage the 5,500 sheep, 100 cattle and 30 horses on his farm. 

He discovered a pointy black object that has been measured at 10 feet tall by 1.3 feet. The object was sticking in the ground. And reminded Miners of a burned-out tree.

“Pretty frightening, actually,” Miners, 48, said. “I was quite surprised,” he added. “It’s not something you see every day on a sheep farm.”

Miners took a photo and showed it to an adjacent neighbor, Jock Wallace, who had also discovered a similarly mysterious object on his farm.

“My guess is they’ll want it back,” Miners added. “I don’t know. I don’t know anything about it. As I said, I’m a sheep farmer.”

Aussie Space Agency coordinates with SpaceX

In coordination with NASA the Australian Space Agency has identified the wreckage as likely coming from a Crew-1 mission which returned to Earth from the International Space Station.

Two pieces were physically inspected by experts from the Australian Space Agency and New South Wales Police on Saturday.

Images of the burned space junk were identified as parts of the jettisoned trunk compartment from a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

“If you believe you have identified a piece of debris, please do not attempt to handle or retrieve the debris,” NASA said.

Three pieces of space junk from a Crew Dragon have been found throughout the area. They are the biggest pieces of space junk found in Australia since 1979. 

According to the Australian Space Agency spokesperson, “The agency has confirmed the debris is from a SpaceX mission and continues to engage with our counterparts in the US, as well as other parts of the Commonwealth and local authorities as appropriate.” 

“The agency is operating under the Australian Government Space Re-entry Debris Plan which outlines roles and responsibilities for key Australian government agencies and committees in supporting the response to space re-entry debris.”