Locals Unhappy That Scilly Space Rocket Casing Has Been Burned

rocket debris_3Some off-island residents say they’re unhappy that part of the rocket discovered between Tresco and Bryher has been destroyed in a controlled burn on Friday and Saturday.

But Tresco Estate says they’ve been assured by rocket scientists that the public were completely safe.

Part of the CRS-4 launched in September 2014 from Florida was found floating off Hangman’s Island on 26th November and news of the discovery went viral on social media.

The remnant of the rocket was being held on Tresco, where it had been towed to.

Tresco Estate had hoped that the debris could stay on the islands, possibly as a feature at the Valhalla Museum.

But representatives of SpaceX, the aerospace company that produced it, would not let the Estate keep the find.

Tresco’s Operations Manager Dean Whillis says rocket debris is counted as military equipment so normal salvage laws do not apply and that means the rocket casing remains the property of SpaceX.

And the decision was made to destroy much of the 10m x 4m chunk of carbon fibre, epoxy resin and aluminium over the weekend.

That’s caused some concern amongst residents and on social media.

One islander has told us that the debris should have been removed to a mainland incineration facility, as the Americans appear to have the financial resources to do that.

Another local, who also spoke to us on the understanding that they would not be named, felt that burning this material in the open would not be permissible on the mainland because of the risk of inhaled toxic chemicals that could be released.

They told us that those burning restrictions haven’t been applied to Scilly yet.

Dean says the disposal was under the direction and observation of SpaceX, who are qualified in handling such matters.

He adds that Tresco Estate was, “reassured that the debris and any disposal posed no risk to anyone’s health.”

Radio Scilly understands that some sensitive material was removed from the remains of the rocket and the Americans also retrieved the United States flag marking from the casing.

Dean says the contingent also met with schoolchildren at Tresco and Bryher School, who are in the middle of a space project.

They also expressed a hope that the company will be able to send a permanent reminder of the recovery, and Dean says the Estate is looking forward to sharing news about this when they know more.

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