Update: NASA ID’s Space Shuttle Debris in Lake Nacogdoches
NASA says a large piece of debris found in Lake Nacogdoches is one of the cryogenic fuel tanks from the Space Shuttle Columbia, which disintegrated during re-entry over East Texas in February of 2003.
A NASA spokeswoman says the tank was visible in the lake bed because the lake level had sunk to such a low level in the ongoing Texas drought.
Nacogdoches police informed NASA of the find and sent pictures for identification. NASA engineers who work on the shuttle’s power reactant storage and distribution systems were able to confirm the piece belonged to Columbia.
The piece was one of 16 tanks on the shuttle that stored supercold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. The spherical tank, about 40 inches in diameter, will eventually be shipped back to Kennedy Space Center, where NASA stores all the collected debris from Columbia in a climate controlled area in the giant Vehicle Assembly Building.
To date, only about 40 percent of the Columbia orbiter’s wreckage has been recovered. The remainder was either burned up during reentry or is still where it landed in east Texas and western Louisiana.
Nacogdoches law officers say people who find something they think came from the space shuttle should leave it where it is and contact police or the Sheriff’s office.
If it did come from the shuttle it is still the property of the US Government and anyone who removes it can and will be prosecuted.