While some of us were busy munching on turkey this Thanksgiving, a crew of men off the Isles of Scilly coast were busy retrieving a piece of SpaceX history.
At first, they weren’t quite sure what they had found because the object was covered in goose barnacles. But after wiping a few of the oceanic filter-feeding crustaceans off, they discovered an American flag.
The Isles of Scilly lies about 30 miles off the southwestern tip of England. Clearly, this large piece of metal was a long way from home.
As they wiped more barnacles from its surface, the men found tell-tale signs that they had discovered a piece of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. But they weren’t sure which mission to which the rocket belonged.
Judging from all of the barnacle build up, the rocket piece had been in the water for a long time. But for how long? One of the men, James Druce, took to the Internet for help.
Musk has not responded since Druce’s tweet from yesterday, but he didn’t have to. A band of SpaceX fans in the Reddit community /r/SpaceX quickly banned together to tackle the mystery of the unidentified rocket mission.
Luckily, they had a nearly perfect piece from the rocket to work with, which included the American Flag and Falcon 9 logo on it. After addressing more than a dozen Falcon 9 launches over the past 3 years, one Reddit commenter thinks they have the answer:
SpaceX’s CRS-4 mission launched from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Sept. 21, 2014 — about 14 months ago!
It was the fourth resupply mission that SpaceX had launched to the International Space Station under a contract with NASA. The piece belonged to the first stage of the rocket, which landed in the Atlantic Ocean after transporting the second stage and a Dragon spacecraft to space.
Among the Dragon’s cargo was the first 3D printer to go to space and 20 mice for research on the long-term effects of space. Here’s the piece of the rocket that washed ashore:
Druce told Business Insider on Twitter that he has contacted SpaceX about the piece and is now waiting for a response.
If SpaceX does not want to retrieve the long-lost, logo-decorated rocket piece, then Druce has one idea of what to do with it, which he told Motherboard’s Becky Ferreira:
“Tresco Abbey Gardens has an amazing and beautiful display of wrecked ship figureheads, called ‘Valhalla,'” he said. “It would be brilliant to display it there — pieces of wrecked ship, from both the naval age and the space age, all ending up on Scilly.”
Druce later released this video on YouTube of the SpaceX rocket being driven to a storage unit:
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