Re: Reentry over Texas?

Ed Cannon (ecannon@mail.utexas.edu)
Wed, 29 Jan 1997 01:17:25 -0600

Monday night (27 Jan.), a local TV station (KEYE-42) in Austin, Texas, 
reported on TWO possible reentry objects:  the one near Seguin (29.6N, 
98.0W) that's already been discussed, and a larger object discovered 
somewhere near Georgetown, Texas (30.6N, 97.7W, north of Austin).  The 
second object was at least 2 meters long and well over one meter in 
diameter.  It had rounded ends and was somewhat similar to a large 
propane tank except that it appeared to lack whatever you call the hump 
in the middle of a propane tank.  It appeared to have some possible 
tube or hose connecting sites on it somewhere.  (I'm having trouble 
describing what they showed on TV.)  It was scorched and also somewhat 
crumpled and cracked.  They did not show the ground under it.  It was 
fairly heavy, as they showed the farmer who found it pushing on it but 
not being able to move it at all.  Not being any sort of a physicist, 
I wonder what sort of terminal velocity a hollow object of that size 
and shape, weighing up to a few hundred kilos, would reach before 
hitting the ground.  (Same for the 30-kg sphere of about .6 to .8 meter 
diameter that fell near Seguin.)

Note that Georgetown is a bit east of Seguin, so both locations appear
to more or less fit the groundtrack that Bjoern Gimle posted.

A very interesting photo regarding a Delta II ("The Delta second stage
being hoisted up for installation on the first stage" 45K JPEG) which
shows possible candidates (in my opinion) for both of the fallen objects, 
is at http://mgs-www.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/se/atlo_pics/cape/96pc11445.jpg,
and a second is at http://.../96pc1143.jpg.  (They go with others having 
to do with the assembly of the Mars Global Observer launch vehicle.  The 
URL that has smaller versions of those two and other photos is at
http://.../stack.html.)

If the fallen objects were from the decaying MSX Delta rocket, how should
the statement by USSPACECOM that "it's not one of ours" be interpreted?

Ed Cannon
Austin, Texas, USA
30.30N, 97.73W