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Chunk of Spacecraft Lands in Back Yard

From Associated Press

A jagged 33-pound fragment of the Soviet Salyut-7 space station has been discovered under a fruit tree in northern Argentina after crashing to Earth a day earlier.

The 1 1/2-foot-wide metal cylinder came flaming through the sky and landed in the back yard of a home in Capitan Bermudez, a suburb of Rosario.

The owner of the house, Delia Adela Guevara de Palazzo, said she saw the fragment plunge to Earth. “I left the room where I was sewing because I heard a sound like a plane in the patio,” she said.

“Then I saw a flame that came toward me from the sky. I saw in space a ball of fire that seemed like a comet and came at me gyrating like a corkscrew,” she said. “The only thing I could think to do was run and pray. It landed, burning, (two yards) away.”

The chunk of metal plowed about eight inches into the ground under a fruit tree. Police took it away for examination.

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A specialist from the National Technological University checked the object for radioactivity and found none, La Nacion said.

Salyut-7 broke its orbit and crashed through the atmosphere over Argentina at about 2 a.m. Thursday. Residents throughout Argentina reported seeing glittering lights and hearing explosions.

About 1.5 tons of the 40-ton spacecraft, which was the size of a train car, may have reached Earth, the Defense Ministry said.

Civil Defense workers concentrated their search today in Neuquen province along the Andes Mountain border with Chile, 1,200 miles southwest of Rosario.


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