A farmer in New South Wales, Australia, made an unusual discovery on his sheep farm after two large pieces of space debris and several smaller ones crashed down the Earth. The debris seems to have come from the trunk of Crew-1’s Dragon Capsule.
As first reported by ABC, it is believed this debris reentered on July 9, as people in the surrounding area heard a loud bang. This was likely the debris moving at supersonic speed as it burnt through the atmosphere.
Brad Tucker, an astrophysicist, went out to the farm to help identify the pieces, and identified the Dragon capsule’s trunk as the likely source. This was backed up by Astronomer Jonathan McDowell, who noted that the reentry path and time all lined up for the debris to be in that area.
This is not the first time a large chunk of space debris has made big waves. Just last year, a COPV tank from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket landed on a Washington farm, after putting on a brilliant display of light during its reentry. Most of the time, smaller pieces of space debris will burn up on reentry due to the incredibly high speed and friction of the atmosphere. A number of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites have deorbited and burnt up in the atmosphere. Some were purposefully deorbited due to being earlier test satellites, while other had malfunctions, and others were impacted by a solar storms.
One of the most newsworthy re-entries of spacecraft led to NASA receiving a $400 fine for littering from Australia. That was, of course, the reentry of Skylab in 1979.
This isn’t the only spacecraft reentry we can expect, as astronomers are also tracking part of a Chinese rocket that is beginning to make its descent.