Strange object dropped from sky and smashed man's van


Originally published at:



Looks like a carbon fiber wrapped tank for compressed gas or maybe a liquid fuel.


One wonders whether his insurance company will sue the Russians…


Unidentified Flying Falling Object



It looks like an overcharged pressure tank. I expect it didn’t fall from space or a plane, but rather came from somewhere relatively nearby, and was launched high when it exploded.



It’s Coulson time!


It looks like a composite overwrapped pressure vessel. They aren’t just used for spacecraft and satellites, but are components of spacecraft and satellites (including Molniya 3-51).


Given that it smelled “like diesel” it was probably a kerosene/paraffin tank. That’s often used as a liquid fuel in rockets. It’s not hydrazine because apparently that smells like ammonia.



I want to make an Onion-like article where it says something like, “At first the driver of the truck described the object as smelling of urine and beer, until he realize that he sudden impact made him piss himself and spill his beer.”


Incidentally, these Molniya satellites have a very eccentric orbit and are sometimes seen as what appear to be stationary in the sky and flashing reflected sun but in actuality are still moving, its just the long portion of their orbit on their way out or back in.


Hmm…Assuming that it IS the remains of Molniya 3-51…
1.) Molniya orbits are HIGHLY elliptical, highly inclined, and have an orbital period of one half day. This is so that they spend long periods of time during the high parts of their orbits above high latitudes. This is because it is difficult to get a signal to geosynchronous satellites at high latitudes because they are low in the sky.
2.) the lower part of their orbit is on the opposite side of the Earth from where they spend all their time. Since the Southern Indian ocean probably isn’t that critical a point of interest for the Russians. (Diego Garcia should be easily observable from a more normal orbit) I have to assume that during earlier orbits, drag through the upper atmosphere has decayed the orbit enough that the perigee has shifted from the South Atlantic

ed to add. Of course since they have an orbital period of 12 hours, their ground track has two apogees and two perigees. And both perigees are over one hemisphere and both apogees are over the other. Atmospheric drag at perigee would not tend to change that, although each pass would lower the apogee more than the perigee, and decrease the total period of the orbit, making the ground track vary between each orbit. So never mind my previous part 2.)


For me, the strange object wasn’t the weird part of reading this story.


Looks to me like a studio spotlight.


Police hauled the thing away and the FAA didn’t respond to inquiries from a local TV station

Never tell the cops about your space junk, they’ll steal it for themselves, and the Feds don’t care.


Nah. I would rather believe two Yankee professors would lie, than that stones have fallen from the heavens.


Communications satellite. Right. They want us to believe it’s only a communications satellite.

Paging Art Bell.


Near Milwaukee? Surely local launch operators would own up to their mistake.