Strange objects fall from the sky with regular occurrence. It’s an unavoidable-yet-terrifying fact of our modern life given the amount of seen and unseen activity which takes place daily above our heads. While the majority of orbital and sub-orbital debris likely falls in vast uninhabited areas such as our oceans, the icy wastes of Antarctica, or the ever-weird Siberia, some of this falling airborne or spaceborne debris occasionally manages to do some serious damage to the hapless earthlings who happen to be in its wake. Luckily for residents of Freeport, Texas and San Luis, Colombia this week, new cases of mysterious space debris happened to be of the former variety.
According to KHOU news out of Houston, Texas, a large piece of debris from what appeared to be some sort of spacecraft was found washed ashore near Bryan Beach Park. Freeport Police were called to the scene in order to identify and contain the possibly dangerous debris. According to Freeport Police Chief Daniel Pennington, the case was a rare occurrence for local law enforcement:
We find a lot of strange things but this is definitely a first for us. Clearly it looked like it was something that had to do with either a plane or a ship is what we initially thought. […] We couldn’t tell was it from a boat. Was it from a plane? To be honest, off the top of our heads, we didn’t even consider a piece of space aircraft.
After Freeport officials called in the FAA to aid in identifying the debris it was determined that the object was a piece of a rocket launched a few weeks earlier by a French Guiana-based commercial space firm. According to Chief Pennington,
That’s where it gets a little complicated.
Because the debris was found on American soil, several different government agencies are launching investigations prior to allowing Freeport Police to return the debris.
Farther south, a similar discovery by residents of the Colombian city of San Luis is likewise calling into question the responsibilities of commercial space organizations to protect individuals from possible orbital debris.
According to Colombian local news, a satellite-like object was found on city sidewalks. One resident claims the object was smoking and leaking a strange liquid. The object was three meters across (10 feet) and weighs over 100 kilos (210 lbs). Whatever it is, the object was attached to a parachute and is covered in scientific instruments and solar panels. Initial speculation has it that the device belongs to Google’s Project Loon which is testing balloon-borne satellites to bring internet connectivity to remote areas.
Local officials have secured the debris and are storing it away from the public under the guise of “safe keeping.” Locals, however, believe the object has a more sinister purpose. Isn’t this how the Roswell legend got started?