Report: Russian Specialists Study Rocket Debris Sighting Over U.S.
The European planet-hunting observatory COROT launches spaceward atop a Russian-built rocket on Dec. 27, 2006.
Credit: CNES 2006 - D. Ducros.

MOSCOW (Interfax-AVN) - Specialists of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) are studying reports suggesting that pieces of Russia's Soyuz-2 launch vehicle, which blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on December 27, might have fallen on U.S. territory, Roscosmos spokesman Igor Panarin told Interfax on Friday.

"We do not rule out that pieces of the upper stage of the Soyuz-2 launch vehicle might have been registered in the atmosphere over U.S. territory. We are analyzing the information available to us more thoroughly now," he said.

There is nothing extraordinary about space junk, including spent rocket stages and spent satellites, falling on Earth, Panarin said.

"Dozens of thousands of space junk objects remain in orbit around Earth. Specialists are monitoring them. Some of them burn up in the atmosphere or fall on Earth every day," he said.

The media buzz surrounding the situation with the Soyuz-2 rocket is unjustified, he added.

The rocket's pieces that allegedly fell on U.S. territory cannot be parts of Russia's Fregat upper stage that placed France's COROT satellite into orbit on December 27, Panarin said.

"Specialists of the Lavochkin research and development center, where the Fregat upper stage was manufactured, said that they know the area where Fregat was dumped for certain. It was dumped into the Pacific Ocean on December 27," Panarin said.