The Australian Space Agency is investigating space debris found on farms in the Snow Mountains of Australia, and Brad Tucker, an astrophysicist from the Australian National University, believes it is the remains of a spaceship called SpaceX.
Brad Tucker often gets calls from people convinced they found space debris, which is usually something else. ", he said to the Guardian newspaper.
A few days ago, the researcher received a call from Mick Miners and Jack Wallace, two owners of a sheep farm in the small town of Dalgeti in southern South Wales, Australia, and was told that several burnt objects had been found. Tucker drove two hours to the farm to examine the damage, suspecting it might be the remains of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
The Crew Dragon spacecraft, 8.23 m high, is actually composed of two knots. The upper part of the spacecraft consists of a cone-shaped capsule consisting of three sub-segments. Its base forms a thermal shield that protects the spaceship when entering the atmosphere. The pressure part is designed for the crew and contains position and guidance engines. Finally, the upper part of the pod includes a small detacher that protects the ISS docking bay when the ship enters orbit and returns to Earth.
The lower part of the spacecraft, called the trunk, has a cylindrical shape. At a height of 3.66 m and a diameter of 3.66 m, this part of the spacecraft is necessary for lifting, but is thrown away before entering the atmosphere. Half of its surface is covered with photoelectric elements to provide the spacecraft with electric power, and the other half is covered with thermoregulators.
One such structure was observed in the Australian region of New South Wales on 9 July, just a few days before two farmers were reported; this "hobot" was part of a capsule launched in November 2020.
At the scene, Tucker found that it was probably space debris, because it was made of composite materials designed to withstand high temperatures.
However, SpaceX has not yet confirmed that the debris belongs to one of its spacecraft. The Australian Space Agency is actively working to support the official identification of these objects.
Space debris is usually destined to fall back into the ocean, but some of them sometimes fall to the ground. In 1979, a part of the American space station Skylab crashed over Western Australia. A Russian nuclear satellite crashed in Canada a few years later. Most recently, China's Changzhen-5B rocket debris also landed on the ground in West Africa and South-East Asia.