EXCLUSIVE: Debris found on farm did fall from satellite launch (video)
KINGS COUNTY, Calif. (KMPH) -- —
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UPDATED 10/18/2018: As FOX26 first reported.
Kings County News Release: On Saturday, October 13, 2018, Kings County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to the area of 8th Ave and Houston Ave in Hanford, CA, regarding a large metal object that was located in a walnut orchard by the orchard owner.
Initially, it was unknown exactly what the object was. Detectives reached out to Vandenberg Air Force Base (home of the 30th Space Wing) and learned the object was likely to be a fuel tank from a communications satellite owned by Iridium.
After reaching out to Iridium, a representative from Iridium responded to the Kings County Sheriff's Office where the tank was being stored.
The Iridium representative identified the tank as being a hydrazine fuel tank that was formerly attached to a communications satellite owned and operated by Iridium - a mobile satellite communications company.
He identified the tank as coming from Iridium Satellite #70.
This particular satellite was launched into space sometime late 1997 or early 1998 and was in a low-earth orbit until it eventually entered earth's atmosphere. The purpose of this particular tank was to store fuel used to change the orbit of the satellite in space.
This particular tank was positively identified due to various governmental agencies tracking space debris. According to the Iridium representative, this particular tank is the first piece recovered from an Iridium satellite re-entering earth's atmosphere and will be closely examined. The tank was turned over to Iridium.
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A dented piece of metal found on a Kings County farm may be from outer space.
New video appears to show the item in question, falling from the sky.
The metal was discovered Saturday on a ranch, south of Hanford.
That same day, NAS Lemoore ruled out any connection to the item.
Just days before, Space-X launched a Falcon-9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The launch was visible to many in the Central Valley.
But in an email, one of Space-X's vice presidents ruled out the fragment was related to the launch.
He tells FOX26 News: "I am fairly certain not from us. The tanks are too short, the liner looks like different material, and it also looks like it went through an orbital reentry."
But cell phone video posted online from Thursday appears to show a satellite making reentry.
Satflare.com is a website that tracks satellites.
It tracked one satellite that made re-entry Thursday.
The path of reentry comes within a mile or two of where the metal object was found.
The European Space Agency also reached out to FOX26 News, saying launches from Vandenberg AFB go out over the ocean to avoid having debris fall back on populated areas.