Cayman surfer salvages space junk
GEORGETOWN, Grand Cayman, Friday May 04, 2012 – Watersports enthusiast Sean Crothers had quite a surprise when he found part of a spaceship in the sea off Grand Cayman.
Crothers was kiteboarding at Pease Bay when he spotted what turned out to be a piece of a rocket launched from French Guiana in October.
“It was about 100 yards off the beach when I first saw it. When I was done kiteboarding I walked out to drag it onto the beach. It was only in about 2 feet of water and I had to walk it out to deeper water to flip it over, then I could drag it over the shallows,” said Mr. Crothers, who works at the Ocean Frontiers dive shop.
“My first thoughts were [it was an] airplane or something from space because of the colour and the shape. Actually, at first, all that was legible was “ce” in big letters ... I was thinking of the Air France flight that went down off Brazil a few years ago. I wiped off the algae on it and read ‘pace’, then ‘olutions’. Then I started thinking satellite,” he said.
Ocean Frontiers owner Steve Broadbelt did a little online detective work to find where the space junk had come from.
He thought that the partial name on the 10 foot by 8 foot piece of debris was probably “space solutions”. “When I Googled that, I got taken to lots of sites about closets, but when I put ‘space ship solutions’, Arianespace came up as the first result, so I found it pretty quickly,” he said.
“It had half a logo from Arianespace Solutions and a serial number, so I went to their website and went through their photo gallery and matched it up,” Broadbelt added.
He tracked it down to a rocket that French launch services company Arianespace had launched from French Guiana on October 21 last year.
The craft was the first Russian Soyuz rocket launched from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana. That rocket set in orbit two Galileo GPS satellites – the first of 30 satellites planned for Europe’s Galileo constellation.
Crothers, meanwhile, took the space junk home in his pickup and is now storing it on a friend’s property. He said he was showing it to close friends, but it was unavailable for public viewing.