A large, jagged chunk of metal found on a North Carolina beach had once been part of a SpaceX rocket, the Charlotte Observer reported Tuesday, citing confirmation from the company.
SpaceX said in an email to CNET that it worked with local authorities to recover what it described as a "piece of hardware."
The object, measuring about 10 feet by 6 feet, was discovered by a couple at a popular tourist spot along the Outer Banks in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The couple speculated that it could have been pushed ashore after Hurricane Michael struck, according to the Charlotte Observer. The rocket section was so big and heavy that a front-end loader was required to take it away from the beach, National Park Service officials told the publication.
It's the second time in 12 months that rocket debris from the company has been spotted in the area. A 15-foot-long piece identified as a fairing -- the nose cone covering for a payload -- from a SpaceX rocket was discovered last October. In Indonesia two years ago, pieces of a SpaceX rocket fell from the sky onto a pair of islands.
Not everything comes down haphazardly. SpaceX has landed and recovered a number of whole rocket boosters in recent months, eventually.
It's also been working on recovering smaller objects like the fairings. In February, for instance, it a few hundred meters," according to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. The vessel has been upgraded with a net that's four times larger, said SpaceX.to try to grab the fairing used in the launch of and an Earth-imaging satellite, but the fairing missed the net by "
"No other company or space agency has ever attempted to recover a fairing before," a SpaceX spokesman said in an email. "it's a very difficult challenge."
First published Oct. 18 at 2:01 a.m. PT.
Update at 7:44 a.m. PT: Added comment from SpaceX.