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List of space debris fall incidents

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cylindrical rocket fragment on sand, with men looking at it
Saudi officials inspect a crashed PAM-D module in January 2001.

Space debris usually burns up in the atmosphere, but larger debris objects can reach the ground intact. According to NASA, an average of one cataloged piece of debris has fallen back to Earth each day for the past 50 years. Despite their size, there has been no significant property damage from the debris.[1] Burning up in the atmosphere may also contribute to atmospheric pollution.[2] Numerous small cylindrical tanks from space objects have been found, designed to hold fuel or gasses.[3]

Notable examples of space debris falling to Earth and impacting human life include:

1960s-1990s

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  • 1969: five sailors on a Japanese ship were injured when space debris from what was believed to be a Soviet spacecraft struck the deck of their boat.[4]
  • 1978: the Soviet reconnaissance satellite Kosmos 954 reentered the atmosphere over northwest Canada and scattered radioactive debris over northern Canada, some landing in the Great Slave Lake.[4]
  • 1979: portions of Skylab came down over Australia, and several pieces landed in the area around the Shire of Esperance, which fined NASA $400 for littering.[4]
  • 1987: a 7-foot strip of metal from the Soviet Kosmos 1890 rocket landed between two homes in Lakeport, California, causing no damage.
  • 1991: Salyut 7 underwent an uncontrolled reentry on 7 February over the city of Capitán Bermúdez in Argentina.[5]
  • 1997: an Oklahoma woman, Lottie Williams, was hit, without injury, in the shoulder by a 10 cm × 13 cm (3.9 in × 5.1 in) piece of blackened, woven metallic material confirmed as part of the propellant tank of a Delta II rocket which launched a U.S. Air Force satellite the year before.[6][7]

From 2000

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  • 2001: a Star 48 Payload Assist Module (PAM-D) rocket upper stage re-entered the atmosphere after a "catastrophic orbital decay",[8] crashing in the Saudi Arabian desert. It was identified as the upper-stage rocket for NAVSTAR 32, a GPS satellite launched in 1993.[9]
  • 2002: 6-year-old boy Wu Jie became the first person to be injured by direct impact from space debris. He suffered a fractured toe and a swelling on his forehead after a block of aluminum, 80 centimeters by 50 centimeters and weighing 10 kilograms, from the outer shell of the Resource Second satellite struck him as he sat beneath a persimmon tree in the Shaanxi province of China.[3]
  • 2003: Columbia disaster, large parts of the spacecraft reached the ground and entire equipment systems remained intact.[10] More than 83,000 pieces, along with the remains of the six astronauts, were recovered in an area from three to ten miles around Hemphill in Sabine County, Texas.[11] More pieces were found in a line from west Texas to east Louisiana, with the westernmost piece found in Littlefield, Texas and the easternmost found southwest of Mora, Louisiana.[12] Debris was found in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. In a rare case of property damage, a foot-long metal bracket smashed through the roof of a dentist office.[13] NASA warned the public to avoid contact with the debris because of the possible presence of hazardous chemicals.[14] 15 years after the failure, people were still sending in pieces with the most recent, as of February 2018, found in the spring of 2017.[15]
  • 2007: airborne debris from a Russian spy satellite was seen by the pilot of a LAN Airlines Airbus A340 carrying 270 passengers whilst flying over the Pacific Ocean between Santiago and Auckland. The debris was reported within 9.3 kilometres (5 nmi) of the aircraft.[16]
  • 2016: on 2 November, the upper stage of Vega flight VV01 launched on 13 February 2012 reentered over the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. A composite overwrapped pressure vessel survived reentry and was recovered.[17][18][19][20]
  • 2020: The empty core stage of a Chinese Long March-5B rocket made an uncontrolled re-entry - the largest object to do so since the Soviet Union's 39-ton Salyut 7 space station in 1991 – over Africa and the Atlantic Ocean and a 12-meter-long pipe originating from the rocket crashed into the village of Mahounou in Côte d'Ivoire.[21]
  • 2021:
    • A Falcon 9 second stage made an uncontrolled re-entry over Washington on March 25, producing a widely seen "light show".[22] SpaceX retrieved a piece of debris, a composite-overwrapped pressure vessel, that landed on a farm in Washington.[23] Another piece of debris, likely a pressure vessel as well, also survived the re-entry and washed up ashore in Oregon.[24]
    • In September, a high-pressure helium bottle weighing 50 kg from the aft end of the Centaur upper stage of an Atlas V rocket (international designator 2019 -094A) was discovered in south-eastern Australia near the town of Yambuk, Victoria.[25]
  • 2022:
  • 2023:
  • 2024:
    • On 8 March 2024, a cylindrical metal object weighing nearly 2 pounds (0.91 kg) struck a house in Naples, Florida causing damage to property.[48][49] The object was a piece of EP9 battery pallet jettisoned from ISS in 2021 and survived reentry when its orbit decayed.[50][51][52][53]
    • On 28 April 2024, a large fragment of space debris bearing scorch marks was found on a farm in Ituna (Saskatchewan, Canada). The piece of space debris had carbon fiber composite and honeycomb structure, weighing nearly 100 pounds (45 kg). It is speculated to be part of Axiom 3 Dragon trunk section that reentered on 26 February over that region.[54]
    • On 21 May 2024, a fragment of reentered space debris was found in Haywood County (North Carolina, US). Charred object was 4 × 3.5 feet in size, weighed nearly 90 pounds (41 kg) and had carbon fiber dotted with metallic embeds as construction material.[55][56] On same day about 40 miles (64 km) away another smaller piece of debris was found in Macon County, NC after it struck a homeowner's roof.[57][58] Both fragments belong to trunk section of SpaceX Crew-7 Dragon spacecraft which reentered on same day.[59][60]

References

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  1. ^ Brown, M. (2012). Orbital Debris Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from https://orbitaldebris.jsc.nasa.gov/faq.html Archived 28 March 2019 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Brown, Mike (27 May 2021). "SpaceX Starlink: how it could kickstart an 'uncontrolled experiment'". Inverse. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  3. ^ a b "History of Space and Launch Debris Recoveries". Paul D. Maley. 2 July 2022. Retrieved 31 July 2022.
  4. ^ a b c U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, "Orbiting Debris: A Space Environmental Problem" Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Background Paper, OTA-BP-ISC-72, U.S. Government Printing Office, September 1990, p. 3
  5. ^ McQuiston, John T. (7 February 1991). "Salyut 7, Soviet Station in Space, Falls to Earth After 9-Year Orbit". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 January 2022.
  6. ^ "Today in Science History" Archived 13 January 2006 at the Wayback Machine todayinsci.com. Retrieved 8 March 2006.
  7. ^ Tony Long, "Jan. 22, 1997: Heads Up, Lottie! It's Space Junk!" Archived 2 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine, wired, 22 January 2009. Retrieved 27 March 2016
  8. ^ "PAM-D Debris Falls in Saudi Arabia" Archived 16 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine, The Orbital Debris Quarterly News, Volume 6 Issue 2 (April 2001).
  9. ^ "The Orbital Debris Quarterly News" (PDF). NASA Orbital Debris Program Office. April 2001. Retrieved January 22, 2023.
  10. ^ "Debris Photos" Archived 25 December 2017 at the Wayback Machine NASA.
  11. ^ Wallach, Dan (1 February 2016). "Columbia shuttle tragedy marks Sabine County town". Archived from the original on 9 May 2018. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  12. ^ "Columbia Accident Investigation Report, Volume II Appendix D.10" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 October 2011. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  13. ^ "Shuttle Debris Falls on East Texas, Louisiana". 1 February 2003. Archived from the original on 9 May 2018. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  14. ^ "Debris Warning" Archived 17 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine NASA.
  15. ^ "Debris from fallen space shuttle Columbia has new mission 15 years after tragedy". 1 February 2018. Archived from the original on 6 February 2018. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  16. ^ Jano Gibson, "Jet's flaming space junk scare" Archived 6 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine, The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 March 2007.
  17. ^ DailyThanthi. "ஒட்டன்சத்திரம் அருகே வானத்தில் இருந்து விழுந்தது ஐரோப்பாவுக்கு சொந்தமான ராக்கெட்டின் பாகம் இஸ்ரோ விஞ்ஞானி 'தினத்தந்தி'க்கு பேட்டி" [What fell from the sky near Otanshatram was "a part of a rocket belonging to Europe", an ISRO scientist told Dinathanti.] (in Tamil). Archived from the original on 4 December 2016. Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  18. ^ "ஒட்டன்சத்திரம் அருகே விண்ணிலிருந்து விழுந்த மர்மப் பொருள்" [A mysterious object fell from the sky near Otanchatram]. Dinamani (in Tamil). Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  19. ^ "ஒட்டன்சத்திரம், கரூர் அருகே வானில் இருந்து விழுந்த மர்மப் பொருள்" [A mysterious object fell from the sky near Ottanchatram, Karur]. Hindu Tamil Thisai (in Tamil). 3 November 2016. Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  20. ^ "'Mysterious' object falls from sky in Tamil Nadu village". The Indian Express. 2016-11-11. Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  21. ^ O'Callaghan, Jonathan (12 May 2020). "Chinese Rocket Debris May Have Fallen On Villages In The Ivory Coast After An Uncontrolled Re-Entry". Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  22. ^ "A Falcon 9 rocket making an uncontrolled re-entry looked like an alien armada". Ars Technica. March 26, 2021. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
  23. ^ "Piece of SpaceX rocket debris lands at Washington state farm". Phys.org. April 3, 2021. Retrieved April 5, 2021.
  24. ^ Machemer, Theresa (2021-04-13). "After a Fiery Display, SpaceX Debris Landed on a Washington Farm". Smithsonian Magazine.
  25. ^ "A/AC.105/1286 - Notification by Australia under the Rescue Agreement concerning the recovery of a component part of a space object". www.unoosa.org. Retrieved 2022-11-04.
  26. ^ "India examining crashed space debris suspected to be parts of China's Long March rocket". SpaceNews. 2022-04-19. Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  27. ^ "आकाशातून पडले होते आगीचे गोळे, इस्रोचे शास्त्रज्ञ चंद्रपूर जिल्ह्यात दाखल; तपासणीसाठी ताब्यात घेतल्या वस्तू" [Fireballs fell from the sky, ISRO scientists entered Chandrapur district; Items seized for inspection]. TV9 Marathi (in Marathi). 2022-04-08. Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  28. ^ "Last year's Chinese rocket stage reenters over Maharashtra, MP producing a spectacular display". ThePrint. 2022-04-03. Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  29. ^ "2 ISRO scientists visit Sindewahi". www.thehitavada.com. Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  30. ^ "India hit by more suspected space debris". SpaceNews. 2022-05-16. Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  31. ^ "Skyfall in Gujarat, expert says likely debris of a Chinese rocket". The Indian Express. 2022-05-17. Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  32. ^ "Suspected space vehicle pieces fall in Gujarat villages; ISRO lab report awaited". The Indian Express. 2022-05-16. Retrieved 2022-05-19.
  33. ^ Tucker, Brad (2022-07-30). "The biggest piece of space junk to hit Australia in 40 years might not be the last". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 2022-07-30.
  34. ^ "Astrophysicist believes piece of debris found in a sheep paddock is space junk". ABC News. 2022-07-29. Retrieved 2022-07-30.
  35. ^ "Space agency confirms rocket remnants in sheep paddock belong to SpaceX". ABC News. 2022-08-03. Retrieved 2022-08-03.
  36. ^ "A/AC.105/1221 - Notification by Australia under the Rescue Agreement concerning the recovery of three component parts of a space object". www.unoosa.org. Retrieved 2022-09-03.
  37. ^ Leong, Adeline (14 August 2022). "Rocket Debris Punctured House Roof In Sibu, Allegedly From China's Long March Rocket". TRP. Retrieved 2022-09-03.
  38. ^ Agencies (2022-07-31). "Nasa criticises China after space rocket makes uncontrolled return to Earth". the Guardian. Retrieved 2022-09-03.
  39. ^ "Public advisory on the re-entry of Long March 5B debris". Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA). Retrieved 2022-09-03.
  40. ^ "Chinese rocket re-entry: suspected debris lands in Malaysia and Indonesia". the Guardian. 2022-08-02. Retrieved 2022-09-03.
  41. ^ "Mystery wreckage in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Philippines is probably fallen Chinese rocket parts, space-debris experts say". Business Insider. Retrieved 2022-09-03.
  42. ^ Mangosing, Frances (2022-08-03). "Chinese rocket debris found near Mindoro Strait". INQUIRER.net. Retrieved 2022-09-03.
  43. ^ "A/AC.105/1296 - Notification by Japan under the Rescue Agreement concerning the recovery of a space object". www.unoosa.org. Retrieved 2023-07-17.
  44. ^ "Redditors reckon they've SOLVED mystery objects' origin". PerthNow. 2023-07-17. Retrieved 2023-07-17.
  45. ^ Fizrock (2023-07-16). "This is the third st…". r/space. Retrieved 2023-07-17.
  46. ^ "Australian Space Agency says mysterious item on WA beach could be 'foreign' rocket part". ABC News. 2023-07-17. Retrieved 2023-07-17.
  47. ^ Rachwani, Mostafa (2023-07-17). "Mystery object: Australian police warn public away from huge cylinder found washed up on WA beach". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-07-17.
  48. ^ Iraola, Annalise (2024-03-15). "Object from the sky crashes through Naples family's ceiling and floor". WINK News. Retrieved 2024-04-03.
  49. ^ "Space junk? Object falls from sky, pierces Florida man's roof, lands in his home". WKMG. 2024-04-02. Retrieved 2024-04-03.
  50. ^ "NASA Statement on Orbital Debris". blogs.nasa.gov. 2024-04-15. Retrieved 2024-04-16.
  51. ^ Mike Wall (2024-04-15). "Object that slammed into Florida home was indeed space junk from ISS, NASA confirms". Space.com. Retrieved 2024-04-16.
  52. ^ "Garbage pallet jettisoned from space station will stay in orbit two-to-four years – Spaceflight Now". Retrieved 2024-04-03.
  53. ^ Clark, Stephen (2024-04-02). "Trash from the International Space Station may have hit a house in Florida". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2024-04-03.
  54. ^ "From outer space? Sask. farmers baffled after discovering strange wreckage in field". Regina. 2024-05-09. Retrieved 2024-05-10.
  55. ^ Liverman, Marc (2024-05-23). "On remote trail, man stumbles upon heavy, mysterious object possibly from outer space". WLOS. Retrieved 2024-05-24.
  56. ^ brionna@themountaineer.com, Brionna Dallara (2024-05-24). "Space debris crashes on mountain in Haywood County". The Mountaineer. Retrieved 2024-05-24.
  57. ^ Vilcarino, Jennifer. "Two North Carolina men find suspected space debris from same craft". ABC News. Retrieved 2024-06-05.
  58. ^ Berger, Justin (2024-06-03). "More space debris? NC resident suspects object that crashed into house came from above". WCHS. Retrieved 2024-06-05.
  59. ^ "DRAGON ENDURANCE 3 DEB (ID 59227) | The Aerospace Corporation". aerospace.org. 2024-05-21. Retrieved 2024-05-24.
  60. ^ Holpuch, Amanda (2024-07-01). "Debris Found in North Carolina Came From SpaceX Dragon, NASA Says". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2024-07-06.
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