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Rocket debris falls on Beverly-area farm

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | April 5, 2021 1:00 AM

BEVERLY — One landowner here discovered what goes up does, in fact, come down.

According to Grant County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Kyle Foreman, a Beverly-area landowner called GCSO after finding what appeared to be debris from the fiery re-entry of the second stage of a Falcon 9 rocket over the Pacific Northwest late on March 25.

“There was a property owner down near Beverly who was just walking on their property and found what was probably debris from the Falcon 9,” Foreman said.

Foreman said the GCSO did not respond to the call, which came during the weekend, until the following Monday morning, and found a 5-foot-long oblong tank nestled in a small hole.

“It didn’t hit anything of value, just put a 4-inch-deep dent into the earth,” he said.

Foreman said the sergeant on duty contacted a company, Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, and sent a picture of the tank. SpaceX identified it as coming from the Falcon 9.

“This was our first time having to do this. And based on the suspicion that it was SpaceX’s property, the sergeant called SpaceX and sent them a photograph, and they said, ‘Yeah, that’s ours,’ and they sent someone over and got it,” Foreman said.

“We’ve never had the opportunity before to deal with that. We just erred on the side of returning the property,” the GCSO spokesperson added.

According to the GCSO, the property owner does not wish to be identified.

Foreman said the debris is likely “a composite-wrapped pressure vessel” used to store helium to support the Falcon 9 upper stage’s propulsion system.

SpaceX designed and flies the Falcon 9 rocket to send satellites, cargo ships and the manned Dragon spacecraft into orbit. While the first stage of the Falcon 9 is reusable, the second stage is typically maneuvered over open ocean in the southern hemisphere before re-entry.

Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX did not respond to the Herald’s requests for comment.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.