Welcome to the Future: Elon Musk Now Raining Fiery Space Junk Across Your Home

space junk australia

It’s 2022. You can order anything and everything to your sofa with the click of a button and no one can stay off social media for more than 60 seconds. One of the most exciting developments in personal convenience this year is the brand new SpaceX service where Elon Musk will personally fly a spacecraft directly to your home, free of charge.

That is, if by ‘fly’ you mean ‘crash land’ and by ‘spacecraft’ you mean ‘burning hunk of shrapnel’. At least, that’s exactly what a few sheep farmers in the Snowy Mountains got earlier this year.

Back in July, three pieces of space debris fell across the Numbla Vale, south of Jindabyne. One of the largest pieces was estimated to be around three metres long and was embedded upright in the ground like a terrifying black totem.

Travelling at speeds of up to 25,000 kilometres per hour, the big hunks of aluminium and carbon hit the ground with a massive bang that was reported by people on social media as far away as Canberra. The space junk was charred and black due to burning up on re-entry.

Mick Miners, who found one of the massive objects in his field, told the ABC at the time that he “didn’t know what to think, I had no idea what it was” upon discovery.

“I think it’s a concern it’s just fallen out of the sky,” he said. “If it landed on your house it would make a hell of a mess.”

Two further pieces were found in the appropriately named Moonbah, just west of where the original was located.

The fragments have now been confirmed by the Australian Space Agency to have been a part of the SpaceX Dragon rocket as it reentered Earth’s atmosphere. SpaceX is the private space exploration company headed by disappointing real-life Iron Man Elon Musk.

“The agency 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,” an Australian Space Agency spokesperson told the ABC.

“The agency is operating under the Australian Government Space Re-entry Debris Plan which outlines roles and responsibilities for key Australian government agencies and committees in supporting the response to space re-entry debris.”

Weirdly, if it falls out of the sky and squashes your sheep, that does not make the space junk automatically yours, even if it would make an interesting conversation starter on your mantle piece. International space law dictates that finders are not keepers and debris must be returned to its country of origin.

The Space Agency have said that anyone coming across further space junk shouldn’t handle or attempt to retrieve it but should instead get in touch with local authorities or SpaceX directly on their Debris Hotline at 1866 623 0234. You can, alternatively, email them at recovery@spacex.com.

It’s not the first time that flaming space junk has rained across our big brown country and it’s unlikely to be the last. This recent touchdown, however, is the largest piece of space debris found in Australia since part of NASA’s Skylab space station smashed into the ground near Esperance, Western Australia, in 1979.

Most space junk lands in the ocean, however, with the increase in nation states and rogue billionaires flinging stuff into the void above our heads, it’s increasingly likely that we’ll see more of this stuff on land.

In June, the Chinese Tianzhou-3 cargo spaceship’s booster rocket detached and is currently making its own uncontrolled way to Earth. China decided not to guide the booster back to Earth, and there’s no telling when or where it might reappear apocalyptically. Scientists have said that most of it will likely burn up on reentry however, in 2020, parts of a Chinese rocket slammed into buildings in Ivory Coast.

Local police have said that there is likely to be further space junk out there in the Snowy region but have urged people not to go looking for it as it could be potentially dangerous and farmers typically don’t take kindly to trespassers.

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