Aussie sheep farmers discover space junk in paddock

A pair of Australian sheep farmers were shocked to discover a large hunk of space junk, sticking out of the ground on their property.

Sheep farmers Mick Miners and Jock Wallace both own farms in the rural New South Wales town of Dalgety.

However, after residents across the region reported hearing a loud bang when a SpaceX ship re-entered the atmosphere on July 9, both have discovered more than just sheep on their land.

One part is believed to belong to the Crew-1 Trunk capsule, which was initially mistaken for some abandoned farming equipment.

Australian astrophysicist Dr Brad Tucker told 1News it's extremely rare for space junk to make it back down to earth in one piece, and even rarer for it not to land in the ocean.

"You don't really expect to have large pieces coming down and landing near sheep, but this is what this situation was," he said.

"The two farmers were quite surprised. It just doesn't happen that often."

Tucker says it was easy to identify that the debris belonged to the SpaceX Crew-1 ship, which recently returned to earth, thanks to serial numbers which were still visible.

"If you have unknown space junk, there can be some very nasty chemicals in it," he warned.

"But again, we knew that it was the trunk, we knew what it had and what it didn't have, and therefore were like, alright, it's going to be safe to deal with."

While large space travel companies like Rocket Lab and SpaceX have been moving towards reusable rockets and parts, Tucker says he’d like to see greater provisions to prevent unwanted space junk.

"There has to be a big push to say, we do just need practices and rules that say you have to manage because the technology is at a point also that we can do better, we can do more, we can plan better, we can manage it better, and we have to build those things in I think."