SpaceX goes to the Australian outback in search of space debris.
Following reports that the wreckage of the SpaceX Crew-1 Dragon spacecraft has landed in the southeast of the country, teams from the California-based company are heading to Australia to see what’s out there.
“We have received reports of debris from the trunk,” said Benjamin Reed, senior director of the SpaceX manned spaceflight program, during a NASA Crew-5 briefing live on Thursday (August 4).
According to SpaceX, the “trunk” is an unpressurized cargo hold that also supports the Crew Dragon during the launch phase. (will open in a new tab) materials. Half of the trunk is made up of solar panels that power the Dragon during flight or docking.
When the Ekipazh-1 spacecraft re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere on May 2, 2021, the trunk naturally separated and over a year later, on July 8, made an apparent re-entry into Australia. their large farms in recent weeks following reports of sonic booms, according to ABC Australia, in an area just below the suspected re-entry zone for the trunk.
Related: SpaceX Crew-1 astronaut mission to the International Space Station in pictures
The United States (and companies like SpaceX that launch from American soil) follow the government’s Orbital Debris Prevention Standard Practices. (will open in a new tab) manage possible space debris, like most international space agencies.
SpaceX’s Reed stressed that there were “no injuries or damage” in the reports, and that if it was indeed SpaceX equipment, it was within “the expected path where something could happen.”
“It’s part of the process we’re doing with NASA and with the FAA. [the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration]within the company,” Reed said. “We use models that are ultimately validated to predict and plan for these things.”
The fall of SpaceX equipment to Earth has already been confirmed previously. In April 2021, debris from a SpaceX launch ended up on a farm in downtown Washington and was linked to the second stage of a Falcon 9 rocket. Local authorities confirmed the fall, though SpaceX did not respond to requests for comment at the time.
This time, SpaceX told reporters that it was working with the FAA, the US State Department and the Australian Space Agency to coordinate the investigation and that the company would “learn what it can from this experience,” Reed said.
“We are looking for ways to improve the situation, but again, this was within the scope of our analysis,” Reid added. “We’re digging into it.”
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