Mysterious object that washed up on Australian coast could be space junk, officials say

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Authorities investigated on Tuesday whether a cylindrical object the size of a small car that washed up on a remote Australian beach is space junk from a foreign rocket.

Police had cordoned off the object after it was discovered at Green Head about 250 kilometers (155 miles) north of the city of Perth on Sunday evening.

The Australian Space Agency said it was liaising with other space agencies to identify the object, which appears to be partly made of woven material.

“The object may have come from a foreign space launch vehicle and we are in contact with global counterparts who may be able to provide more information,” the agency tweeted.

European Space Agency engineer Andrea Boyd said his colleagues believe the object that washed up in the Indian Ocean fell from an Indian rocket during a satellite launch.

“We are pretty sure from the shape and size that this is an upper stage engine from an Indian rocket that is used for many different missions,” he said. she told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Whoever launched the object into space would be responsible for its disposal.

“There’s a United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, and they have an outer space treaty that everyone has signed saying that whoever launches anything into space is responsible for it until the very end. end,” Boyd said.

Western Australia Police said in a statement on Monday that a government chemical analysis had determined the object was safe and “there is no current risk to the community”.

Authorities had previously treated the device as dangerous and urged the public to stay away.

Police said the device would be removed after it was formally identified as to its origin.

“Police will maintain security of the object until it is removed and members of the public are asked to stay away from the location,” the statement read.

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