SpaceX says debris found in Australia is within its space

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SpaceX says debris found in Australia is within its space

A SpaceX representative said a team will travel to Australia after the discovery of a large piece of space junk on an outback property, and said the incident is within the expected analysed space of what can happen. Fragments of the SpaceX Dragon capsule were found in the NSW Snowy Mountains after locals heard a loud bang on July 9, believed to be caused by the spacecraft re-entering Earth's atmosphere.

On August 4, senior director of the SpaceX Human Spaceflight ProgramSpaceX Human Spaceflight Program Benjamin Reed spoke to reporters during a live streamed media conference from NASA's Johnson Space Centre.

He said that there were reports of debris of the Dragon trunk that had landed in the outback of Australia.

Mr Reed told the conference SpaceX that they had been working with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Australian Space Agency as part of this process and that the incident fell within expectations.

He said there was no injury or damage.

This was all within the expected analysed space of what can happen. Companies must have permission from the US government before they can launch space craft, which includes filling out an orbital debris report.

Mr Reed alluded to that as part of his response.

He said that there was an expected path of where things may come down and this particular debris was within that analysed space.

It is part of the process we do with NASA, with the FAA, internally and we use models that are all jointly approved to predict and plan for these things. The comments made by Reed to the August 4 conference are the only public comments that have been made about the incident so far. The ABC contacted SpaceX.

The discovery of SpaceX debris has sparked both intrigue and concern from space experts about whether space activity needs to be better managed.

Duncan Blake, a space law lecturer at UNSW Canberra, said the explanation from Mr Reed about the incident was too vague.

I think it's a bit dismissive and I think SpaceX should be doing more than just saying that it was within their analysis. The comments suggest that SpaceX was aware of the possibility that space debris would land in somewhere like Australia and decided that the risk was acceptable, according to Duncan.

He believes that the company needs to be more open and communicative with Australia.

He said that he wonders whether they coordinated with Australia when they made that risk assessment.

If they didn't, that seems somewhat arrogant, possibly to make a decision that affects Australia without consulting Australians. The pieces will have to be returned to the US as a result of the fact that SpaceX will eventually visit Australia.

They have to come to Australia, Mr Blake said.

The space object belongs to SpaceX and they may want the space debris returned to them. As part of the media conference, SpaceX's Benjamin Reed noted that there was always room for improvement.

He said we look very closely at the data, we learn everything that we can.

We always look for ways to improve things, but this was within our analysis space and we were within expectation.