Huge chunk of SpaceX rocket falls on Washington farm

A piece of debris from a SpaceX launch fell on a farm in Washington state, leaving a nearly four-inch dent in the ground.

The Grant County sheriff’s office said last week that SpaceX has recovered a composite-overwrapped pressure vessel from Falcon 9 re-entry which was found on private property in southwest Grant County. 

It said the object possibly belongs to the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket that launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on 4 March.

County sheriff’s spokesperson Kyle Foreman said his understanding is that the approximately five-foot vessel is used for storing helium. He confirmed that no one was hurt, according to The Associated Press. 

A farmer suspected the debris may have been from the launch and contacted the sheriff’s office, Mr Foreman said. SpaceX confirmed it was part of the rocket and has retrieved it, he said. 

On 25 March, mysterious bright lights were seen lighting up the sky in Washington and Oregon. While they were initially mistaken for a meteor shower, the National Weather Service in Seattle said its unofficial information was that the bright objects were “debris from a Falcon 9 rocket second stage that did not successfully have a deorbit burn.” 

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Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said that what people saw on 25 March was part of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that had launched in early March. “The debris was re-entering the atmosphere after 22 days in orbit,” he said.

Mr Foreman said that there have been no reports of damage from the 25 March event and no other reports of debris have been made.

Falcon 9 is a reusable, two-stage rocket designed by SpaceX for the transport of people and payloads into the Earth’s orbit and beyond, according to the company website. There have been 111 Falcon 9 launches with 71 landings so far.

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