BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Africa
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
Thursday, 4 May, 2000, 11:55 GMT 12:55 UK
South African 'UFO' was US rocket
Object in field
Both the objects landed on farms
Metal objects which fell to earth in South Africa have been identified as coming from a US rocket used to launch satellites.

Three pieces crashed out of orbit and there has been concern that more may follow.



The witnesses said it was white-hot when it landed

Police Superintendent Andre Kellerman

"They are definitely from a Delta II rocket," said Cees Rijswijk at Cape Town's observatory. "There could be more on the way, but the chances of anyone getting hit by one are rather less than of being run over by a bus."

The three parts, which fell on farmland due east of Cape Town, have been identified as coming from the motor of the rocket.

Police statements

Dr Rijswijk added: "There are more than 8,000 pieces of debris in orbit above us, all of them being closely monitored. As most of the Earth is covered with water, the chances are that most will not hit land when they fall."

Two of the objects were described as "big metal balls", the first weighing about 30kg (65 pounds) and the second about 50kg (110 pounds).



Superintendent Andre Kellerman said the Department of Civil Aviation had asked the police to collect the object and to take statements from witnesses who had seen it fall.

Peter Viljoen, on whose land the ball fell, said farm workers had heard a noise like two loud gun shots, and had seen the shining ball falling to the earth. The impact left an impression in the ground about 20cm (eight inches) deep.

It took more than half an hour before the object was cool enough to move, Mr Viljoen said.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
Africa Contents

Country profiles
See also:

18 Apr 00 | Americas
Secret 'UFO base' revealed
12 Jun 98 | UK
They came from space ...
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other Africa stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories