Two North Carolina men find suspected space debris from same craft

The 90-pound hunk of space junk could belong to SpaceX, said one property owner.

June 4, 2024, 5:15 PM

Mike Wooten was watching television in his living room in Franklin, North Carolina around dusk on May 21 when he heard a 'thump' on the roof. He thought it might have been a bird flying into his upstairs window.

When Wooten went outside to investigate, he found something lying on his lawn that "looked like a dead crow," he said.

To his surprise, it wasn't a bird at all, but an object that he suspects had fallen from space.

Wooten described the object as 15 inches long, 4 inches wide, and weighing about two or three pounds. He said it resembled a car air filter with bolts, only melted.

Measurement of the object that struck Mike Wooten's home which measures approximately 15 inches long and about 4 inches.
Courtesy Mike Wooten

Wooten received another surprise when he called his son-in-law to tell him of the discovery, and learned that just a couple of days earlier, another man in Haywood County, some 40 miles away, had discovered a larger, heavier piece of debris that also had apparently fallen from space.

That man was Justin Clontz, a groundkeeper at Glamping Collective, a luxury camping retreat in the North Carolina mountains.

The object was "kind of wicked looking," said Clontz, who discovered it while mowing a trail. It was also significantly larger than Wooten's debris: about four feet square and weighing 90 pounds. Despite its size, Clontz didn't hear the object's impact because of the remoteness of the area.

Wooten believes both objects belong to SpaceX, and that his smaller object may have separated from the larger one as it re-entered the atmosphere. He said he plans to connect with people at the Glamping Collective and see if the two pieces fit together and, if so, would leave the piece there for display.

"I just really want to get confirmation if this is from Space X," said Wooten

Neither NASA nor SpaceX immediately responded to an ABC News request for comment.

The opposite side of the object.
Courtesy Mike Wooten

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer and astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, shared a post on X that admitted the possibility that the debris could be from a SpaceX craft that launched last August.

"This definitely looks consistent with being a bit of the Crew-7 Dragon's trunk which reentered on a path right over this location on Tuesday," McDowell wrote, along with a graphic of a re-entry path that takes it directly over the area where the debris pieces were discovered.

In the meantime, Clontz said he's building a display case for the item, which already forms a part of an attraction for the visitors at the Glamping Collective.

"We have a lot of surprising experiences on the mountain but this is certainly something we were not anticipating or expecting," said Matt Bare, the Glamping Collective's owner.

For his part, Wooten remains impressed by the possibility that despite all odds, debris from outer space hit his home.

"I wish I had that kind of luck at a casino," said Wooten.