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SpaceX collects space junk from Saskatchewan farmer

SpaceX collects space junk from Saskatchewan farmer
SpaceX collects space junk from Saskatchewan farmer

SpaceX has recovered pieces of debris that fell to Earth in April and was found on farmland in Saskatchewan.

Barry Sawchuk made headlines earlier this year when he said a giant piece of space debris had crashed into his field. On Tuesday, SpaceX workers came to his farm near Ituna, Saskatchewan, northeast of Regina, to retrieve the space debris.

Sawchuk said the U.S. aerospace manufacturer contacted him and asked him to return the debris.

“They’re trying to figure out why it doesn’t burn up (in the atmosphere) when it comes down,” he said in an interview.

An unnamed SpaceX employee arrived near Ituna, Saskatchewan, in a moving van to pick up space debris that landed on Barry Sawchuk’s farm earlier this year.

A SpaceX employee who declined to be named arrived near Ituna, Saskatchewan, in a moving van to pick up space junk that landed on Barry Sawchuk’s farm earlier this year. (Laura Sciarpelletti/CBC)

Sawchuk would not disclose how much money he received for the trash, but said he was pleased with the compensation, which he will use to build a new ice rink in the community.

“We have something for the ice rink in Ituna and that’s what it was always about,” he said.

The two SpaceX employees who arrived at the farm in a moving van and loaded the debris did not want to give their names and did not want to speak to the media.

The debris came from a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft that returned to Earth from the International Space Station in February with four passengers.

Sawchuk said five farmers found at least eight pieces of space junk in the area.

Barry Sawchuk, second from right, stands near space debris that landed on his farm and other farms in the area.

Barry Sawchuk, second from right, stands near space debris that landed on his farm and other farms in the area. (Laura Sciarpelletti/CBC)

CBC has reached out to SpaceX several times, but no one from the company has responded.

Samantha Lawler, an astronomy professor at the University of Regina, was at the farm when SpaceX employees arrived Tuesday. She said SpaceX needs to be transparent about how its operations impact the atmosphere and how it handles incidents like this one.

“I was hoping they would tell us a little bit more about why they’re here and what they’re going to do with the pieces,” Lawler said. “SpaceX is doing nothing to educate the general public about how they’re changing the air for everyone in the world,” she said.

Lawler said there will likely be more space debris falling from the sky because of the high density of satellites in the atmosphere.

“It shows how common it is that much more space junk is going to fall down this way. It’s going to cause damage. It’s going to cause deaths. It needs to be better regulated,” she said.