Space junk identified at Yambuk by Australian Space Agency

A year-long mystery has been solved after residents of a coastal took it upon themselves to collect a strange black cylinder wedged into a beach waterway.

Yambuk resident Matt King said he found the unidentified object in September 2021 while walking his dogs along the beach.

He had no idea what the “weird bit of stuff” was but knew it was out of the ordinary in a town known for its beautiful estuary, wild beach and tall slide.

two men on a large black container
Harry Sokol and Matt King inspect the object for clues.(supplied)

“It’s pretty weird. It’s obviously an expensive container. I don’t know if it’s stainless, wrapped in carbon fiber,” he said.

Curiosity and wariness of ocean contamination compelled Mr King to reach out to Colleen Hughson, an ocean plastics campaigner who was awarded Warrnambool citizen of the year for her hands-on environmental work.

A man wearing green leather gloves stands next to a black cylinder
Matt King first found the object on the beach at Yambuk.(Supplied: Colleen Hughson)

Ms Hughson’s credentials for investigating strange things that wash up on beaches are well established in the region.

She runs several local beach clean-up crews that document and log endless data about the hundreds of kilograms of junk that wash up along the south-west coast of Victoria and has found all kinds of strange objects over the years.

A young woman with a camera in front of a large koala puppet
Colleen Hughson organizes clean-up missions along Victoria’s south-west coast.(Supplied: Rosana Sialong)

Ms Hughson said she reported the cylinder to the local police (case it was a bomb), accounts in notifying the Australian Space Agency, a photograph of the object on her social media and then expected shared by the authorities to collect the item.

In the meantime, people began sending her articles about other space junk found around the world.

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“A lady from Tasmania actually sent us an article of a really similar thing that had landed in Washington on someone’s farm,” Ms Hughson said.

“It was this composite pressure vessel that contains the rocket fuel of the rocket ships.”

A large black cylinder wrapped in shredded material on sand
Matt King found the strange cylinder on the sand at Yambuk.(Supplied: Matt King)

The realization that discarded space objects could re-enter the earth without disintegrating sent Ms Hughson down a rabbit hole of information about spacecraft junk that was intentionally directed to an uninhabited zone in the ocean.

Our ocean space graveyard

A graphic showing spacecraft parts scattered across the ocean floor.
An artistic interpretation of the “spacecraft graveyard” at Point Nemo in the South Pacific Ocean.(ABC News: Jarrod Fankhauser)

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