Tuesday, July 22, 2008

More on the mystery space junk in Queensland

Back in March, I was asked by ABC radio to identify a piece of space junk found near Charleville in Queensland. I determined that it was a Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessel, from the upper stage of a rocket, and may have come from one of three launch vehicles predicted to re-enter in November 2007:

1. The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV, India; launched from Sriharikota)
2. Molniya-M (Russia, launched from Plesetsk)
3. Delta II (USA, launched from Cape Canaveral)

Last night at the Australian Space Development Conference I was talking to Dr Michael Green of the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research (who I must say was initially a little skeptical about the value of space heritage management, but I think I talked him round ...) and this object came up. Apparently the US have said it's not theirs, and Dr Green was going to write to the UN to investigate its source. So my previous research on this question has proved useful.

This of course is part of the Outer Space Treaty, under which states retain ownership of their space hardware no matter where it is.

I hope he was even more convinced of the value of space archaeology after that!

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