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SpaceX hardware washes up in the Bahamas

David Dickinson, Correspondent
Jun 3, 2015, 0:24 UTC

Sen—A recent beachcombing expedition turned up a find that was out of this world. Or at least, one that was lofting a mission spaceward.

This past Friday night, at around 6pm local time on May 29, founder and CEO of the Charleston South Carolina company Blue Acorn Kevin Eichelberger was vacationing with three friends in the Bahamas when they noticed something odd floating in the waters near their cottage.

“We’d noticed the two pieces of large debris floating about 100 to 200 yards off shore,” Eichelberger told Sen in a brief phone interview.

Eichelberger placed images on Twitter (he is @kpe), which caught the interest of space enthusiasts online this past weekend.

The debris contained two GoPro cameras, both of which looked to be in good shape. “There were some barnacles on the debris, and it looked to have at least been in the ocean for a few months,” Eichelberger said.

Eichelberger sent the SD cards to SpaceX, along with the coordinates for the debris should SpaceX be interested in picking them up. Eichelberger explained to Sen that it would probably be tough to get the large pieces through customs.

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A closeup of one of the GoPro cameras. Image credit: Kevin Eichelberger

“Cool, thanks for letting us know,” SpaceX CEO Elon Musk responded Monday on Twitter. “This is helpful for figuring out fairing reusability.”

Eichelberger told Sen: “We’re a big fan of SpaceX, and it’s great to be a part of things in a small way.” 

There is some speculation that the wreckage may have been from the launch of the Deep Space Climate Observatory DSCOVR from Cape Canaveral on Feb. 11, 2015. The clamshell fairings separating from the Falcon 9 can be observed as flashing dots while watching SpaceX launches with binoculars. The hardware appears to be part of either the clamshells or spacer rings used in the Falcon-9 stage 1 structure.

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A "space debris selfie..." Image credit: Kevin Eichelberger

The next SpaceX launch is a Dragon resupply mission for the International Space Station, with the launch scheduled for June 26.

Be sure to keep an eye out, even on a leisurely stroll on the beach… you never know what you might find!