KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — The wreckage discovered in the Tobago Cays last week, which was previously thought to have come from a Russian spaceship has been identified.
The debris is part of the mechanism that encased a Russian-built Soyuz rocket, which was used to launch two Galileo satellites for the European Space Agency on Oct. 21, from Kourou, French Guiana, Searchlight newspaper reported yesterday.
The debris was identified with the assistance of the United States Embassy in Barbados.
The “fairing” is a container used to protect the satellite against the impact of the Earth’s atmosphere during ascent. Once the rocket clears the earth’s atmosphere, the fairing is jettisoned, exposing the satellite, the newspaper said.
The publication further quoted the United States Embassy in Bridgetown as saying, “the bird markings are from the upper composite and are a perfect match for the Galileo launch.”
The launch of the satellites was successful but a 12-member tour group happened upon the wreckage on Petit Tabac last week.
They had initially thought it to be part of a commercial aircraft and one member of the tour-group said that he wanted to be paid for the find.
Speculations were rife that the wreckage was parts of the unnamed Russian Phobos-Ground probe, which the European Space Agency said two weeks ago that it had abandoned efforts to contact, increasing the likelihood that it will plunge to Earth.
The unnamed Phobos-Ground probe was to head to Mars for a 2½-year mission to take soil samples then fly back to earth. But it became stuck in Earth orbit after its Nov. 9 launch and attempts to send commands that would propel it towards the Mars moon have been unsuccessful.
Russian deputy space chief Vitaly Davydc said last month that if the spacecraft is not sent to Mars, it could fall to Earth something between late December and late February.
Officials from the Regional Security System were called in to help to local national security agencies to investigate the nature and origin of the wreckage.