The Ministry of Defense has ordered an investigation into an explosion in the sky which sent metal pieces raining down on the central province of Binh Thuan last week.
Speaking to Thanh Nien on Monday, Col. Pham Van Long, political commissar of the Binh Thuan Military Headquarters, said the ministry’s Air Defense Force is studying the metal pieces to learn more about the explosion that happened in Thuan Quy Commune, Ham Thuan Nam District.
It happened around noon on Friday with no recorded injuries, but several local people had their house roofs damaged by the flying objects.
Ham Thuan Nam District’s military headquarters is now storing the metal objects, Long said.
Le Cuong, head of Thuan Quy Commune’s police division, showed Thanh Nien reporters the storage, saying that local people and agencies have collected more than 50 pieces so far.
As Thanh Nien observed, the pieces are all grey and some are burned.
They have different measures and shapes – as thick as 2-3 millimeters, as long as 3 meters, as wide as 70 centimeters, and as heavy as 17 kilograms.
Among them is an object that looks like part of a tube with many sections of electrical wires also burned.
Nguyen Huu Tuong, principal of Thuan Quy Elementary School, said some objects that hit a garden next to the school were very sharp and heavy.
But, “very luckily,” they did not fall onto the school’s playground where some students were preparing for their afternoon classes, he said.
Meanwhile, Pham Thi Lan, a local resident, said her family was having lunch when their house was shaken by the explosion, and then two metal pieces hit and damaged the roof.
It was “lucky” that no one was injured, she said.
“It was frightening, but our commune was also very lucky,” Cuong spoke of the incident.
In interviews with Thanh Nien, many residents believed that it was an aircraft explosion.
However, the Ham Thuan Nam military headquarters said that no aircraft was present in the Binh Thuan sky areas when the incident happened.
An expert on space debris with the Ministry of Science and Technology told Thanh Nien on condition of anonymity that the pieces must be man-made and their sizes suggested that they came from an object which could be hundreds of times bigger.
He also said there is the possibly that they fell from space, most likely from a rocket booster.
Used as an assistant to a liftoff, the booster is detached from the rocket and falls away when it is out of fuel, he explained.
Another possibility is that the pieces came from defunct satellites, according to the expert.
When out of fuel, a satellite falls back to the earth, and although it burns up while flying through the earth’s atmosphere, there is a certain amount of its broken pieces that fall to the land or the sea, he said.
The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) estimated that there are more than 150 million defunct man-made objects in orbit about the earth, or orbital debris, including 500,000 particles between 1-10 centimeters in diameter and over 21,000 larger than 10 centimeters.
However, he also said that although space junk falls to earth every day, so far no serious accident has been recorded.Thanh Nien News