SpaceX rocket debris washes ashore in North Carolina

Perhaps Elon Musk might want it for his recycling efforts?

Zoey Chong Reporter
Zoey is CNET's Asia News Reporter based in Singapore. She prefers variety to monotony and owns an Android mobile device, a Windows PC and Apple's MacBook Pro all at the same time. Outside of the office, she can be found binging on Korean variety shows, if not chilling out with a book at a café recommended by a friend.
Zoey Chong
2 min read
SpaceX rocket launch

Someone found a little bit of SpaceX on a North Carolina beach.


SpaceX might have found new material for its rocket recycling projects.

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 sending some of them back into space.

Watch this: SpaceX successfully lands Falcon 9 rocket in California

It's also been working on recovering smaller objects like the fairings. In February, for instance, it deployed a recovery vessel called Mr Steven to try to grab the fairing used in the launch of prototype broadband microsatellites and an Earth-imaging satellite, but the fairing missed the net by "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.

"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.