Friday 16 October 2009

Ground control to Major Tom

"A lump of metal which smashed through the roof of a house is believed to have come from space, the RAF has said.

The 4lb object was investigated by the RAF Flight Safety Branch after it landed in the loft of Peter and Mair Welton's home in Forester Way, Hull, in July this year.

The branch has now identified it as space debris and said this was the only incident of its kind investigated by the RAF in the last five years.

The metal was reported to the RAF as it was initially thought it may have fallen off an aircraft.

But the investigation found the debris had not come from a plane and was more likely to have fallen to earth from space - although it is unknown what the metal was from.

An RAF spokeswoman said: "In the last five years the RAF has become involved in only one incident involving suspected space debris.

"If requested the RAF will investigate incidents of space debris but they do not have a standing remit to do so." "

Hmmm – it is unknown from whence the metal originated. To my mind, this does leave a rather pertinent question. What exactly is up there? How does it get to be up there? Is it jettisoned by some passing Challenger or lobbed from here? Surely if it is something that has become unattached from some piece of scientific apparatus then someone, somewhere, should be rather concerned that a part of it has broken free and is floating around? Or has this throwaway society broadened its horizons to such an extent that if one of its expensive pieces of apparatus ‘breaks’ in space then “that’s OK we can build another”?

I would just like to know what may fall from space one day and hit me on the head whilst taking a gentle amble up to the village shop that is all, and whom my dependants can sue for lack of suitable health and safety precautions. Or is space outside the jurisdiction of such things?


Richie said...

You have a good point about how nations (US and Russia predominantly) have not been responsible. The good news is NASA is tracking this now. I wonder if this peice of metal was predicted by them?

Anonymous said...

It would be interesting, if not a little worrying, to know exactly what is floating around up there - the NASA site is amazing, Richie.

Anonymous said...

Good grief! Did you see the fuel tank that landed in Georgetown Texas? On the re-entry page?

I have never given this much thought beforehand, however given the sheer amount of the debris that appears in the graphics, I shall be more watchful from now on.

Heaven knows what the council would say if something put a hole in our roof...