space debris
space debris

A Mysterious Object Discovered in the North Carolina Mountains Likely Fell from Space. Here’s What We Think It Is.

A strange-looking object recently discovered in the mountains of Western North Carolina by an area maintenance worker is believed to be debris that fell from space earlier this week.

The object, discovered by Haywood County resident Justin Clontz, was found along a scenic hiking trail on property owned by The Glamping Collective, a vacation home rental company.

The unusual discovery, first reported by WLOS News, was so large that Clontz reportedly had to use a lawn mower to help remove it. Images of the object were made available on the news outlet’s website and can be seen below.

“We don’t know what it is,” Clontz told WLOS, “We just know that it’s not from up here.”

“If it had landed somewhere off the trail in the woods, you would never have found it,” he said. “But it just happened to land on the trail.”

The suspected space debris is composed mostly of metal and carbon fiber, and it is roughly three feet in length. Presently, there are no indications that the object was seen or heard when it fell from space.

Although the object’s identity remains unconfirmed, The Debrief believes there is a strong likelihood that it is a portion of a rocket, possibly related to the ground track from a SpaceX Crew Dragon “trunk” or storage compartment that survived reentry earlier this week.

Based on images of the object Clontz recovered shared by WLOS, The Debrief determined that the suspected space debris is very similar in appearance to an object found in a Canadian farmer’s field northeast of Regina, Saskatchewan, in April.

“The Dragon Trunk section from the Axiom 3 mission reentered over Saskatchewan on Feb 26,” wrote Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist with the Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, in a posting on X on May 9th. “Looks like bits of it have been found on the ground.”

“We are discovering that the composite materials the trunk is made from survive reentry surprisingly well,” McDowell added when asked by another X user if it is normal for such large debris to be recovered.

The Debrief reached out to McDowell about the object recovered in North Carolina this week, who confirmed that it resembles a piece of the Crew7 trunk and appears to align with a reentry that occurred on Tuesday over the region.

“It looks right and the reentry on Tuesday night passed right over this location,” McDowell told The Debrief, emphasizing that although it appears to be the same type of object, the debris recovered in North Carolina was from a different mission than the one associated with the object recovered in Saskatchewan.

“The Crew-7 Dragon mission’s trunk reentered over NC this Tuesday,” McDowell said. “[The Saskatchewan] object is from the Axiom 3 trunk which reentered in February.”

McDowell said additional information about the specific time and date Clontz found the object would be helpful in making a conclusive determination. The Debrief reached out to Clontz, the property owners, and WLOS for further details but had not received responses as of the time of publication.

SpaceX has not yet commented on the objects that fell over Saskatchewan or North Carolina, although several similar incidents have occurred in recent years involving the confirmed reentry of debris associated with the company’s operations.

In August 2022, an object recovered from a rural part of Australia was confirmed to be debris from a Dragon spacecraft. A similar incident in April 2021 saw SpaceX launch debris from a Falcon 9 rocket make its way to a farm in Central Washington.

The FAA has previously said that such debris usually “burns up in the atmosphere over the open ocean posing minimal risk to public safety.”

The discovery of [SpaceX] Dragon trunk debris from the Crew-7 mission in North Carolina, following debris from the Ax-3 trunk in Saskatchewan and from the Crew-1 trunk in Australia, makes it clear that the materials from the trunk regularly survive reentry in large chunks,” McDowell said in a posting on X

Micah Hanks is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of The Debrief. He can be reached by email at Follow his work at and on X: @MicahHanks.