India has confirmed that an unusual find in Australia was, in fact, a fragment from one of its PSLV rockets launched into space. The massive metal piece discovered on a beach in Western Australia, approximately 250 kilometers north of Perth, had intrigued locals who were uncertain about its origin and source.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) told the BBC that the metal piece was a segment from a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket. However, the fate of this debris now lies in the hands of Australia, as per the provisions under the United Nations’ Outer Space Treaty.
The Australian Space Agency (ASA) had initially suggested that the large metal ball could be a fragment from a PSLV rocket, which India employs to launch its satellites into space. In situations like this, space agencies usually coordinate plans to ensure that such debris safely re-enters the ocean and does not pose a risk to life or property on land.
Experts believe that identifying these fragments should not be difficult, as they often bear serial numbers that allow them to be traced back to their country of origin. Many countries seek to retrieve these pieces to analyze their space missions better. However, India’s interest in this specific debris appears minimal, as it is unlikely to yield significant advantages for their space program.
While the ASA contemplates the future of the debris, Western Australia’s state government has expressed its willingness to retain the fragment and potentially display it in a museum, similar to how pieces from NASA’s Skylab space station are showcased. Roger Cook, the state’s premier, proposed to local media that the discovered object could find a place in the state museum, where it would be exhibited alongside debris from NASA’s Skylab station, which was found back in 1979.
Last friday, people in Australia reported seeing a comet/UFO in the sky which turned out to be the LVM3 rocket that launched #Chandrayaan3.
— Debapratim (@debapratim_) July 17, 2023
Some individuals have also suggested using it as an attraction to draw tourists.
Currently, the sizeable metal fragment remains in the custody of the ASA. It is still unclear from which ISRO mission the piece originated and how long it had been in the water before washing up on the beach. Retrieving and preserving such space debris can take weeks or even months.
This is not the first instance of space debris found in Australia, as last year, debris from Elon Musk’s SpaceX missions had also been discovered in various locations in New South Wales.