After Phuket fishermen reported finding an ‘unidentified underwater object’, the UUO has been retrieved and now determined to be space debris, possibly from a satellite or space shuttle. The object had been on the seabed, 6 metres below the surface near Koh Ael in Phuket. At first, no one knew exactly what it was.
Specialists from a Navy explosive ordnance disposal unit were called to look at the round, hollow metal object which was about 45 centimetres in diameter. 3rd Naval Area commander Vice Admiral Choengchai Chomchoengpaet told reporters at a press conference that the team took photos of the object and found it appeared to be a rocket fuel tank, possibly used to launch a satellite or shuttle into space. He said it matched photos online.
Both the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, or GISTDA, and the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand, agree that the object was most likely a fuel tank for a rocket.
Since the fuel tanks may contain harmful chemicals such as ammonia, divers examined the space debris to make sure there were no chemical leaks before bringing the object to shore and then to the navy headquarters. The space debris will be taken to the GISTDA to be studied.
“If other objects similar to this one are found elsewhere, people should not touch them. They could contain hazardous chemicals. They should immediately inform Region 3 Thai-MECC or local officials.”