Last week, we spoke briefly about a second stage of SpaceX Falcon 9 that had an orbital problem and was unable to push itself back into Earth’s atmosphere as planned. Eventually, the second stage of the rocket reentered the atmosphere, but it did so over the western United States, not over the ocean. His re-entry resulted in a spectacular light show in the skies of parts of Washington state. At the time, it was believed that most of the rocket burned in the atmosphere, but some could have landed in the US-Canada border area in the Rocky Mountains.
At least part of the rocket landed on private property in Southwest Grant County, Washington, and was recovered by SpaceX. Grant County is in the center of Washington State, and the component recovered by SpaceX was a compost-coated pressure vessel. The sheriff’s department announced that the component was recovered by SpaceX, but was specific in saying that it was not disclosing details, apparently for fear that treasure hunters might start scouring the area in search of more components.
The image shared by the sheriff’s office seen above shows that the pressure vessel is in surprisingly good condition, presumably surviving re-entry and impact with the ground at high speed. Reports indicate that the pressure vessel has left a 10 cm indentation in the ground. No further damage or injury was reported on Falcon 9 re-entry.
According to the news surrounding the wreckage, the pressure vessel was supposed to contain pressurized helium. While Falcon 9’s second stage rocket engines malfunctioned, the rocket was able to put its payload into orbit without problems, and the first stage landed in Florida as planned. The mission placed SpaceX Starlink satellites in orbit for Internet access.