Beware of debris from SpaceX rocket explosion

June 6, 2016 – 12:52 pm

A lot of money and countless hours of research were lost Sunday when SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule exploded shortly after lifting off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, but officials are now concerned about debris washing up along Central Florida beaches.

Officials with the 45th Space Wing said the debris, which could be toxic or explosive, would most likely appear along the beaches north of Cape Canaveral (in Brevard County).

According to the Brevard County Emergency Management officials, debris is not expected to wash up along the shore for three to five days. If and when debris washes ashore, it's expected to show up in the area north of St. Augustine.

"There is currently no sign of explosive or hazardous materials still intact, but for personal safety, please do not attempt to touch or pick up any debris, as it should all be considered potentially hazardous or toxic material, " Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said in a statement.

An official investigation is underway for the rocket explosion, and any debris that is found is vital to the investigation, officials said. Although, much of the debris may be impossible to find.

"Most of it is probably going to sink because it was metal, " said Dale Ketcham of Space Florida.

The explosion of the rocket and capsule occurred about 2 minutes, 30 seconds into the flight. Pieces could be seen falling into the Atlantic Ocean. More than 5, 200 pounds of International Space Station cargo were on board, including the first docking port designed for future commercial crew capsules.

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, sent out the following tweet at 4:09 a.m. Monday:

Cause still unknown after several thousand engineering-hours of review. Now parsing data with a hex editor to recover final milliseconds.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk)

Despite the explosion, NASA officials said they have enough supplies for the three-person crew on board the space station to last until October and still plan to send three more crewmembers up in a late July launch.


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