Debris From SpaceX Dragon Capsule Lands On Australian Farm

Chunks of space debris found on Australia mountain top farmland identified as remains of a four ton SpaceX Dragon capsule

A landowner in Australia uncovered a surprise, after chunks of space debris were found on a farm in a mountain range near Australia’s southernmost tip.

Local media reports stated that at least three pieces of space debris have been recovered, including a sizeable chunk of twisted metal buried in the ground, that stands taller than a man.

According to CNN, the Australian Space Agency and NASA “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.”

SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule

Space debris

The Australian Space Agency and NASA reportedly confirmed that the objects were “likely” a scrap of hardware from a SpaceX Dragon capsule that was intentionally jettisoned as the spacecraft reentered the Earth’s atmosphere in May 2021.

The SpaceX Dragon capsule was initially designed as a cargo moving spacecraft that unloaded weighs more than 4 tons.

It measures 6.1 metres by 3.7 metres, and is designed to shuttle food and other materials to the International Space Station.

But SpaceX also developed another type of Dragon spacecraft, namely the Crew Dragon capsule that is designed to carry astronauts.

According to NASA’s statement, SpaceX has apparently confirmed the debris found in Australia is likely to be a part of the Dragon’s trunk.

The trunk apparently provides electricity and other necessary services to the main capsule during its time in orbit but is discarded as the main capsule slices back through the thick upper atmosphere on its way home.

Who owns it?

ABC reporter Adriane Reardon tweeted some of the images, whilst asking Elon Musk if anyone from SpaceX would like to collect it.

Another Twitter user posted this image to give readers an idea of the scale of the space debris.

The scraps of the Dragon trunk found in Australia were likely part of a the spacecraft that carried four astronauts home from the ISS on 2 May 2021, according to NASA.

It is relatively rare for space debris to be found on land, as pieces that do manage to survive the re-entry process, typically fall into the ocean.

Last year what was believed to be a piece of a SpaceX rocket’s second stage – which powers the rocket after the lower first stage expends all its fuel – landed on a farm in Washington state, CNN reported.

ABC Australia reported that for now the space debris is likely to remain on the Australian farm, but could eventually return to the United States.

There is reportedly an obligation under international space law to repatriate any debris to the country from where it originated.