A couple of months back, beachgoers were alarmed and intrigued when a fragment of a craft was swept ashore on Hilton Head Island of South Carolina.
The craft in question was not part of a damaged dinghy or shipwreck but a large chunk of an Atlas V rocket, which it turns out was launched from Cape Canaveral Florida on April 22. Specifically, it is the rocket's faring, which is used to reduced drag.
United Launch Alliance, which owns the rocket explained that debris had been allowed to fall with the intention that it hit the open ocean with enough force to break up and sink - a standard way to deal with the problem.
Somehow, the 12 by 20 foot metallic faring had made its way on a 500-600 mile journey through the sea to find a good place to catch the sun.
But now it looks likely to be kept in the shade for a while, as it has newly been put on display in the local Coastal Discovery Museum, a 25 year old institution which is usually devoting to teaching about the natural history and cultural heritage of the Lowcountry rather than the high-flying.
The debris will be on show for three to five months, or longer if visitors want it - and the exhibit is already proving popular. Such debris can be collectible as with any space-flown material - though it's naturally-occurring 'debris', that is meteorites, or more complete technology which tend to command higher prices at auction.
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