This Sunday, people at Fort Lauderdale Beach were surprised to find a piece of a space shuttle washed ashore on their favorite beach. Stranded whales are not an out-of-the-ordinary sight, but this one puzzled just about anyone.
The rocket debris looks like a fairing from a European Space Agency’s (ESA) Galileo rocket, local authorities said. But so far no one has claimed it and the space agency declined to provide any comment.
Witnesses said that they had spotted the heavy piece of metal on the stretch of beach near the Sun Tower Hotel. People first thought that the fairing might be either the remains of a fast racing boat or of a small plane that had crashed.
But after a closer look, they saw the logo of ESA. One of the people who took some photos of the odd sight said that the finding was “pretty crazy.”
“It was amazing, ’cause it was this huge piece of what might have been a wing of a plane, but as it turns out, it was a piece of a rocket,”
said a professional photographer and the owner of a local art gallery.
NASA recently reported that the rocket debris belonged to a first-stage rocket used by its European counterpart to place a satellite on low orbit. The satellite was launched from the French Guyana launch pad. But after the satellite safely flew toward space the stage rocket that propelled it fell into the ocean. It seems that a piece of it somehow reached South Florida’s shores.
Broward College’s Angel Rodriguez, PhD, explained how exactly that may have happened. He believes that the space debris landed in the Atlantic, in the northern parts of Latin America. From there, an equatorial current dragged the debris toward the gulf stream which brought the piece of metal to Florida shorelines
On Monday, the piece was transported to a tow yard in Lauderdale Lakes, where it will be held until its owners request it. Local authorities briefed the the Federal Aviation Administration and ESA. Until now, there is no news from both agencies.
On the other hand, people find rocket debris in all sorts of places. In 2014, a local fisherman from Brazil found a floating piece of metal on a river. The piece belonged to a European rocket that had lift off from France, but its stage rocket reached the Atlantic.
In the same year, a Chinese man found a piece of rocket in his barn after it had pierced its roof. Chinese authorities compensated the man and his family for the distress caused.
Image Source: CBS Miami