Two unidentified Russian men were on a hunting trip for boar and elk in the Komi republic. Here, in the far north of Russia, they heard a huge noise in the night, a “deafening crash through the pine trees.” The next morning the hunters stumbled across the wreckage of what they first thought was an “alien” space rocket.
“We saw lying here such an alien device,” said one on a video recording the rocket.
Then they saw a RKTS Progress sign on the rocket confirming it was Russian and used for a Soyuz launch. The hunters gave their verdict on the find in the remote tundra – “what a case!” and “damned amazing”.
“You go hunting and it can fall right on top of you,” said one. … It is estimated the rocket fell around 350ft from a road. The discovery is believed to have been in September but the video only emerged recently. The Komi republic has collectors of rocket debris and the hunters said that “the scrap gathers will be here soon”.
Homeowners in the far-flung region have made collections of old rocket parts.
Here’s a video with some stills:
In the USA, you can salvage and sell space junk that falls to earth, although it is illegal to buy or sell any wreckage from the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia as they are considered to be memorials.
… Also out of bounds is anything from the surface of the moon, such as moon rocks, pebbles, core samples and nearly all of the 842 pounds of moon dust that was flown back to earth. All such samples are considered a national treasure, Gary says, and it’s illegal for individuals to own them.
… It is (, however,) legal to buy and sell moon dust that has come back on space artifacts. … in Beverly Hills in October 2000, one lucky collector named Florian Noller spotted a bag used to store artifacts collected on the moon that was taken from the Apollo 15 command module Endeavor. He bought the bag for $2,300. When Noller looked inside the bag, he found a previously unnoticed sprinkling of moon dust along its seams. He put scatterings of dust on little thumb-sized white cards and placed them on photos of astronaut James Irwin saluting the American flag, and then sold them in 2001 through Spaceflori, the German space memorabilia dealer he formed. Compared to the Irwin patch, this serendipitous moon dust was a bargain: the 12 larger cards sold for $2,495, the 50 smaller ones for $995.
I learned while researching this that some space debris can occasionally be extremely hazardous, so be warned.
… under the Space Liability Convention, a nation bears responsibility for an object launched from its territory. Accordingly, the Soviet Union was billed for $3M because of the crash of Kosmos 954 in Canada.
In other words, don’t try to salvage crashed space junk unless you are a professional and know the risks. Otherwise, it’s a good policy to get and keep yourself at least a quarter mile away from any space debris if you can help it.