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Monday, 4 June, 2001, 01:44 GMT 02:44 UK
US wants space debris back

The United States has asked South Africa to hand over three large pieces of space debris which crashed to earth outside Cape Town last year - but local scientists want to keep them.

The debris - a pressurisation sphere, a propellant tank and part of the exhaust nozzle of an American Air Force rocket - are currently on display at a museum in Cape Town.

A US official Ken Hodgkins is quoted as saying that the onus was on South Africa to return the debris, adding that the United States would cover the costs.

But a local astronomer, David Laney, said South Africa should be allowed to keep the debris.

He said it had landed in South Africa, and it should be allowed to remain there.

He said local children were fascinated by it.

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