A piece of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket has apparently been recovered in the UK, nearly five months after the spacecraft exploded in mid-flight. As the BBC reports, a 32-foot-long part of the rocket was found floating near the Isles of Scilly, an archipelago off Great Britain's southwest coast. The coast guard pulled it ashore with the help of local boaters, and it's now under guard on a beach.
In a statement released yesterday, Coastal Area Commander Martin Leslie said the wreckage very likely came from the ill-fated rocket, which in June became the first Falcon 9 to fail when it exploded little more than two minutes after takeoff. The spacecraft was on a mission to deliver supplies to the International Space Station and had no crew aboard.
"‘The markings show an American flag," Leslie said. "It looks like it’s an American rocket and is similar to the unmanned Space X Falcon 9 which blew up shortly after take-off from Cape Canaveral in June." A photo tweeted by Tresco Island also shows a large number nine just above the American flag.
Users on Reddit have suggested that the debris may have in fact come from SpaceX's CRS-4, which successfully launched in September 2014. SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
towed in and beached a piece of flotsam earlier. thoughts were could be aviation parts ..didnt imagine space race pic.twitter.com/f7esX0ixGb— pete hicks (@Hicks_PG) November 26, 2015
The wreckage was discovered by Joseph Thomas, of Tresco Boat Services, who spotted it while riding about 100 yards offshore. "First thoughts, were that it was part of a plane, but then we scraped the barnacles off and we saw it was part of a rocket," Thomas told the BBC. "It's not everyday part of a rocket washes ashore at home."
November 28th, 8AM ET: This article has been updated to include speculation that the debris may have come from the CRS-4 mission.