Thailand Returns Recovered Delta 2 Motor to U.S. Air Force

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  Space News Business

Thailand Returns Recovered Delta 2 Motor to U.S. Air Force

By PETER B. de SELDING
Space News Staff Writer
posted: 31 January 2007
02:36 pm ET



Paris
– The upper-stage motor of a Delta 2 rocket launched in 2000 re-entered the atmosphere in 2005 and landed in rural
Thailand
. It has recently been returned to the U.S. Air Force following negotiations with Thai government officials who initially had sought to keep the hardware for exhibition in a museum.

 

The return to the
United States
was slowed by the coup d’etat in
Thailand
in September, which complicated negotiations, U.S. Air Force Lt. Cassandra Putman said in a report published by the Los Angeles Air Force Base’s Space and
Missile
Systems
Center
.

 

Putman, part of the Delta 2 propulsion and ordnance office, said the 2-meter-long titanium Star-48 rocket-motor casing was aboard the November 2000 launch of a U.S. GPS satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The motor re-entered the atmosphere more than four years later, in January 2005, and landed in
Thailand
‘s Chachoengsao province 100 kilometers east of
Bangkok
. No injuries or property damage were reported, Putman said.

 

Local Thai officials were “making plans to put the debris into a museum” when the U.S. State Department intervened to request that the casing be returned to the
United States
for analysis, Putman said.

 

The September 2006 coup in
Thailand
occurred as preparations were under way to transport the casing by air, but did not seriously disrupt the airlift operation.

 

The casing is now at the Aerospace Corp. facility in
El Segundo
,
Calif.

 

According to Aerospace Corp., which keeps a tally of major pieces of rocket hardware that fall out of orbit, this latest event is the eighth since 2000 involving Russian Proton vehicles, European Ariane 3 and Ariane 4 vehicles and Delta 2.

 

Hardware has landed in
South Africa
(from a Delta 2 launch),
Kansas
(Proton),
Saudi Arabia
(Delta 2),
Uganda
(Ariane 3),
Angola
(Ariane 4),
Argentina
(Delta 2) and
Brazil
(Delta 2).