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Space junk thought to be service module of Dragon manned capsule found in Australia

In news that is related to the impending crash of the Long March 5B core stage, Australian farmers have found scattered space junk pieces that some are claiming are the remains of the service module or trunk section that re-entered on May 5th, the day of the splashdown of SpaceX’s Endurance manned spacecraft.

The debris is most likely the unpressurized “trunk” of the spacecraft, astrophysicist Brad Tucker told Space.com. “Having gone out there and looked at the bits myself, there is not a doubt in my mind it is space junk,” he said in an e-mail. The trunk is designed to send unpressurized cargo into space, and also to support the Crew Dragon during its launch, according to SpaceX (opens in new tab). Half of the trunk includes solar panels that power Dragon when the vessel is in flight or docked to the station. The trunk detaches from the spacecraft shortly before re-entry.

The sonic boom, Tucker said, was widely heard at 7:05 a.m. local time on July 9 and the pieces found near Dalgety were “very close to the tracked path of the SpaceX-1 Crew trunk.”

The problem with this claim is that the sonic boom on July 9th matches no SpaceX launch or re-entry. The material however could be from that Endurance capsule, which returned May 5th, if the trunk once detached did not re-enter until two months later.

If confirmed, this story is surprising, as that service module is thought to be too small to survive re-entry through the atmosphere. It is instead expected to burn up before reaching the ground.

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From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
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7 comments

  • mpthompson

    …that service module is thought to be too small to survive re-entry through the atmosphere. It is instead expected to burn up before reaching the ground.

    Survivability is a statistical estimate, isn’t it? If so, there are likely to be certain sequences of orientation, details of break-up, and other factors that can lead to some components surviving. That particular section perhaps acted as a large lightweight feather. Once it separated from the rest of the trunk it may have slowed quickly and fluttered its way to the ground.

    Perhaps an enterprising PhD physics or engineering student could obtain it and write a dissertation on the likely set of circumstances that lead to that part surviving against expectations.

  • Scott Morrison

    I don’t like how those who found it are just handling the pieces like it’s no big deal. There could still be hypergolics somewhere in them, not to mention frayed carbon fiber is not something you want to touch with your bare hands.

  • Jeff Wright

    I admire the curiosity myself. I thought there was talk about Chinese debris in Africa before the Malaysia re-entry…

  • ” . . . frayed carbon fiber is not something you want to touch with your bare hands.”

    Agreed, but Australia is full of things you don’t want to touch with bare hands; most of them alive.

  • wayne

    “Poseidon Crew Finds over $300,000 worth of Gold in One Day.”
    Aussie Gold Hunters (August 2020)
    https://youtu.be/uLVw-k4P7Lo
    7:48

  • Calvin Dodge

    I don’t believe the trunk contains any hypergolics. The thrusters are all in the capsule.

  • M Puckett

    And nobody had a camera?

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